News

Court dismisses appeal of downtown transit center

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

A King County Superior Court judge has dealt a blow to Gateway Center businesses by dismissing an appeal of a public transit center project proposed near the intersection of South 316th Street and 23rd Avenue South.

Sound Transit has continued to move forward on the project despite the appeal, which questioned a Spokane hearing examiner’s ruling that the transit center, a five-story, 1,200-stall parking garage and freeway access ramps would not have a significant environmental impact.

“We’ve been proceeding unless and until we’re told not to,” Sound Transit spokesman Lee Somerstein said.

Project manager Dan Eder said Sound Transit had adjusted its timeline since the project began. The agency now expects to advertise for construction contractors in October.

Next spring “is when we’ll see real movement on the site,” he said.

So far, Sound Transit has purchased three pieces of property for about $5 million, including the former Silo store land and the Cucina! Cucina! restaurant site — with demolition of existing buildings scheduled for June — and has entered into condemnation proceedings on two others, Eder said.

He said the transit center is expected to cost $38 million, plus $28 million for the ramps.

Gateway Center president Dan Casey. speaking from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, said the corporation will take its case to appellate court to continue fighting the construction of the transit facility downtown.

Many cities have transit centers in their downtown cores, “but to put a park-and-ride downtown is not done, and the reason is because all those park-and-riders gum up the streets and do not contribute to the downtown vision,” he said. “It completely undermines the high-density, pedestrian-friendly vision.”

Others living and working near the transit center site have said commuters and buses heading to and leaving the parking garage will aggravate traffic congestion downtown and increase noise and air pollution.

Stacy Keen, owner of Westfair Home Decor in Gateway Center, said she would like to appeal the Superior Court decision that was made earlier this month, but money is too tight to keep paying for court costs.

“I would love to pursue it. Cars coming to the center of town and then leaving is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said. “But financially, we’re not going to pursue it any further.”

The transit project would accommodate 14 buses in a loading area as well as another 13 buses in a layover area.

Planners have considered including retail stores in the bottom level of the structure and allowing offices to rent parking stalls during the day for employees.

In addition, the project proposes access ramps from South 317th Street directly to high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 5.

Project planners said the ramps would help keep buses off the South 320th Street exit to the freeway.

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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