A map of the sites under consideration by Sound Transit for a new Operations and Maintenance facility in south King County. Graphic courtesy of Sound Transit

A map of the sites under consideration by Sound Transit for a new Operations and Maintenance facility in south King County. Graphic courtesy of Sound Transit

Sound Transit seeks public comment about new light rail yard site

Open house set for March 12 at Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center.

Residents and business owners will get their chance to tell Sound Transit over the next four weeks where to put a new light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility in South King County.

The controversial subject came to light in January when the Kent City Council adopted a zoning change in efforts to block the agency from picking a site on the West Hill where Dick’s Drive-In just opened in December.

In a recent news release, Sound Transit provided a link to its website where it identified the six sites under consideration, advantages and disadvantages of each site and estimated costs.

“The public is invited to provide input on possible sites as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping process,” according to the release. “Comments can be provided online, via email, by regular mail or at a public open house. Those attending an open house will hear information regarding the sites under consideration, the environmental process, and OMF requirements including size, configuration and proximity to an operating light rail line.”

The online feedback runs from Feb. 19 through April 1 and can be found at omfsouth.participate.online/.

In-person open houses are at the following dates and locations:

• Tuesday March 12, 6 to 8 p.m.

Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center, 31510 Pete Von Reichbauer Way S.

• Wednesday, March 20, 6 to 8 p.m.

Highline College, Building 8 – Mt. Olympus Room, 2400 S. 240th Street, Des Moines

Comments may be sent via email to OMFSouthScoping@soundtransit.org.

You may also send written comments to: Sound Transit, Environmental Planner, Hussein Rehmat, 401 S. Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104. All comments must be postmarked by April 1.

An Operations and Maintenance Facility is where light rail trains go for cleaning, storage and maintenance. To keep its entire light rail system functioning, Sound Transit needs to strategically locate OMFs that operate 24 hours a day, year-round. Sound Transit currently operates one OMF in Seattle and has another facility under construction in Bellevue. In addition to studying potential locations for an Operations and Maintenance Facility in South King County, the agency will also require a new OMF in Sound Transit’s North Corridor.

The Sound Transit Board will consider public, stakeholder, Tribal, and agency input received during the public comment or scoping phase which closes April 1. After the close of the comment period and evaluation of comments, the board is expected to decide in May which alternatives should be considered further as part of the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The EIS will take about to two years to complete, with additional opportunities for public and agency comment, and then the board will select the site/location to build the OMF. It is anticipated that the new facility will be open in 2026.

For more information on this project and to sign up for project updates visit soundtransit.org/omfs.

Sound Transit plans to open a new light rail extension from SeaTac to Federal Way in 2024 and a Federal Way to Tacoma Dome extension by 2030.

Here’s a detailed look at the three sites in Kent:

Lowe’s/Dick’s Drive-In property South 240th Street and Pacific Highway (Kent)

Notable Advantages

Adjacent to light rail track operation by 2026 (Federal Way Link Extension).

Minimal impacts on the natural environment.

Lower preliminary estimate compared to other sites ($800 million).

Notable Disadvantages

Potential impacts to approximately 15 properties, including Lowe’s Hardware Store, Dick’s Drive-In Restaurant and a 30+ unit mobile home park.

Access to light rail track requires spiraling tracks.

Midway Landfill and west of I-5

Notable Advantages

Adjacent to light rail track operating by 2026 (Federal Way Link Extension).

Limited impacts to private property (approximately two partial impacts).

No identified streams, mapped water resources or landslide/erosion hazard areas.

Notable Disadvantages

Likely needs a large, thick concrete structural platform with over 150 columns up to 150 feet deep.

Superfund landfill site with potential ground settlement, methane gas and hazardous materials concerns.

Regulatory requirements for construction on a Superfund landfill could impact ability to open by 2026.

Higher preliminary estimate compared to other sites ($1.3 billion).

Midway Landfill and Pacific Highway South (SR 99)

Notable Advantages

Adjacent to light rail track operating by 2026 (Federal Way Link Extension).

Limited impacts to private property (approximately two partial impacts).

No identified streams, mapped water resources or landslide/erosion hazard areas.

Notable Disadvantages

Likely needs a large, thick concrete structural platform with over 150 columns up to 150 feet deep.

Superfund landfill site with potential ground settlement, methane gas and hazardous materials concerns.

Regulatory requirements for construction on a Superfund landfill could impact ability to open by 2026.

Higher preliminary estimate compared to other sites ($1.3 billion).

The other three sites are:

• South 316th Street and Military Road South (unincorporated King County)

• South 336th Street near I-5 (Federal Way) at the Christian Faith Center site.

• South 344th Street near I-5 (Federal Way) located in an industrial area with businesses.

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