Sound Transit’s board of directors have selected a contractor to expand Link light rail south from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the intersection of South 200th St and 28th Avenue South, the agency announced today.
PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. has been awarded a contract to bring Link’s southern terminus into the southern part of SeaTac, with service to begin just four years from now, in September of 2016. PCL’s bid came in at $169 million, which is less than the $170 to $190 million cost Sound Transit had projected.
Over the next four years, PCL will design and build the guideway for the 1.6 mile extension (which I’m going to call Angle Lake Link for the sake of brevity and clarity) as well as the station, which does not yet have a final name. (It will be either South SeaTac, S. 200th Street, or Angle Lake; I personally prefer Angle Lake).
“After reviewing technical and cost proposals from four previously-qualified proposers, Sound Transit identified PCL as the highest ranking firm with demonstrated expertise in design-build methods,” said Ahmad Fazel, Executive Director of Design, Engineering, and Construction Management in a news release.
“The important work PCL and Sound Transit will accomplish together will enable the agency to deliver the South 200th Link Extension project on an accelerated schedule.”
The words accelerated schedule are an understatement, if you ask me. What Sound Transit has accomplished over the last year is really significant. They’ve moved up the completion date for this component of Link’s expansion from 2020 to 2016. For real. That’s huge. It means that in 2016, Link will be expanding in two directions simultaneously — north (to the University of Washington) and south (to Angle Lake in SeaTac) — adding a total of three new stations.
Plans for the Angle Lake station call for a parking garage with seven hundred stalls, though that will be built separately under a different contract than the agreement approved today. Sound Transit is also looking at adding several hundred additional parking spaces to accommodate people who want to park and ride.
Here’s an overview of what people can expect from the new station:
The elevated station will include passenger platforms with covered waiting areas, a transfer area for local and rapid ride bus connections, dedicated areas for passenger pickup and drop off, and vanpool parking. Secured bicycle storage, street improvements to accommodate traffic circulation, bicycle and pedestrian access, landscaping and public art are also elements of the project.
Sounds good. It sounds like the Tukwila International Boulevard Station, actually, which was the southern terminus of Link for the six months in between opening weekend and the completion of the airport extension.
Angle Lake Link will also bring light rail one step closer to Federal Way, whose leaders have been upset with Sound Transit ever since the agency disclosed that the South King subarea just isn’t generating enough revenue for the agency to expand Link to Federal Way by 2023 as originally planned. Link could still get to Federal Way within the next fifteen years if money is found, but at the moment, Sound Transit only has funds for planning work.
Redmond, NPI’s hometown, is in the same boat. Sound Transit is committed to getting East Link to Overlake, but light rail won’t reach downtown Redmond until more money is found. The city has incorporated the arrival of light rail into its transportation planning so construction doesn’t have to be needlessly delayed once money is available. Redmond is doing its best to be patient; Federal Way’s elected officials would be wise to follow Redmond’s example.
We encourage Sound Transit to keep hunting for dollars to get light rail to more communities. Each new extension boosts ridership and makes the system accessible to more people. Our region badly needs more light rail and streetcars to give people transportation choices so they’re not forced to drive to get around.