NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Sound Transit selects contractor to extend Link light rail into south SeaTac

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.

Proposed Angle Lake Link alignment

The pro­posed align­ment for the Angle Lake Link light rail exten­sion, cour­tesy of Sound Tran­sit. The new sta­tion is shown near the bot­tom left cor­ner of the image with the label “S 200th Sta­tion”.

“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.

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One Comment

  1. His­tor­i­cal foot­notes for the record:

    The South 200th St Sta­tion was part of the orig­i­nal Sound Move elec­tric light rail plan of 1996, esti­mat­ed back then to be com­plete­ly fund­ed with the orig­i­nal tax lev­els approved that year. Light rail was orig­i­nal­ly set to be com­plet­ed by 2006 from S 200th to the U Dis­trict. A copy of the Sound Move doc­u­men­ta­tion from 1996 with five men­tions of S 200th is at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/SoundTransit1996SoundMovePlan.pdf.

    Giv­en the orig­i­nal 2006 com­ple­tion date, call­ing the now sched­uled 2016 com­ple­tion of S 200th a case of “accel­er­a­tion” is putting lip­stick on a pig of a project.

    By “pig” I’m refer­ring to the way Sound Tran­sit slurped at the com­pet­i­tive tran­sit fund­ing trough for sev­er­al recent years even after get­ting a sec­ond tranche of tax fund­ing in the Mass Tran­sit Now vic­to­ry of 2008.

    My 2009 com­ments to PSRC on Sound Tran­sit’s pig­gy behav­ior at the expense of oth­er tran­sit agen­cies is at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/NilesPSRC-TIPcomment.pdf.

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly in the 15 year devel­op­ment process for the S 200th exten­sion a bit of mon­ey was wast­ed along the way. At a point about a decade ago Sound Tran­sit had a very grand (expen­sive) sta­tion design for S 200th that was qui­et­ly shelved and writ­ten off. It matched the grandeur of the present Tuk­wila Sta­tion. There’s a mod­el of the first S 200th Sta­tion design pic­tured at http://tinyurl.com/3admvab.

    But as a relat­ed case of non-restraint, it’s quite remark­able that our region will in 2016 have both light rail and bus rapid tran­sit (Metro RapidRide A) run­ning next to each oth­er in the vicin­i­ty of the Air­port.

    # by John Niles :: September 27th, 2012 at 10:44 PM