Federal Way’s downtown landscape is rapidly changing with the recent installation of elevated light rail structures over South 320th Street.
Overnight on July 26, Sound Transit installed girders for the Federal Way Link Extension — structures which will eventually support the tracks — over Federal Way’s main roadway. The elevated light rail tracks will be the first infrastructure built over South 320th Street in city history.
The clearance below the is 16 feet and six inches.
Concrete tracks connect the Federal Way Link Extension route to the Tacoma Dome Link Extension route, which begins on the south side of 320th Street in the corner of the mall parking lot near the Target store.
The Tacoma Dome route will add approximately 10 miles to the regional light rail system and the earliest service may begin is in 2032, according to Sound Transit.
For the Federal Way Link Extension, three stations will serve the 7.8-mile extension from Angle Lake in SeaTac to Federal Way scheduled to open in 2024.
The incoming Federal Way Downtown Station was recently named, approved by the Sound Transit Board approved the name at its June 23 meeting.
Concrete platforms for the downtown station are in place, and foundations for the elevator and escalator are underway, said John Gallagher, media relations supervisor for Sound Transit. Community members will see the structural steel of the canopies above the platform in September.
From this station, the route connects to the Tacoma Dome line and travels alongside I-5 south.
Near South 348th Street in Federal Way, the preferred alternative route crosses over Enchanted Parkway South by Costco where the project plans to have a South Federal Way Station near South 352nd Street — not yet named — before continuing on toward Fife and downtown Tacoma, according to Sound Transit project plans.
No decisions have been made regarding the South Federal Way station, said Gallagher. But the Enchanted Parkway alternative was deemed the preferred alternative by the board in 2019.
Confirmation, or changes, of preferred alternatives will take place after the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been published.
The Sound Transit board will confirm the preferred alternative routes and stations, but a specific date has not been set, according to Gallagher.
In Dec. 2021, the board approved the South 336th Street site in Federal Way as the preferred alternative for the incoming Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) South.
South 336th Street alternative location is a 59-acre site between South 336th Street and South 341st Place and between I-5 and Pacific Highway 99. The cost is projected to be approximately $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.
The OMF South will house 144 light rail vehicles for maintenance, cleaning and storage; it will also provide 470 living wage, union jobs with an opening expected in late 2029.