A photo at night of the Angle Lake Station for light rail in SeaTac. The new stations in Kent will be elevated as well. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit

A photo at night of the Angle Lake Station for light rail in SeaTac. The new stations in Kent will be elevated as well. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit

Debate continues in Kent over light rail station details

Restrooms, parking, rain protection among items discussed

Light rail station details such as restrooms, protection from the rain and parking continue to be fine-tuned by city of Kent and Sound Transit staff.

Two new stations will be built in Kent when Sound Transit begins construction in 2019 to extend light rail 7.8 miles from SeaTac’s Angle Lake Station to the Federal Way Transit Center. One station will go up near South 236th Street and Pacific Highway South and the other one near South 272nd Street and Interstate 5. The new line is expected to open in 2024.

Sound Transit and the city of Kent will sign a development agreement later this year that breaks down specifics of station design.

The City Council has insisted for years that the Kent-Des Moines station include restrooms.

“We really want particular public safety elements for the restrooms,” said Hayley Bonsteel, city senior planner, at a council workshop March 20. “We have proposed some language to Sound Transit something new that they haven’t yet done such as only being able to access restrooms via ORCA card, a great idea but Sound Transit’s probably not going to be able to agree to that because that technology doesn’t exist yet.

“But we have some proposals and ideas to figure out what we can agree to so it works for our public safety staff, transit riders who need to use these restrooms and Sound Transit as well.”

City staff also wants to make sure people catching light rail at the elevated stations have somewhere dry to wait.

“Weather protection is still an issue we are working to resolve,” Bonsteel said. “Canopy coverage at the Kent-Des Moines station is looking pretty good. The canopy coverage down at South 272nd is a bit less than we prefer. Our code requires that we minimize passenger exposure – that’s not a hard number – but we want to make sure riders at our stations are comfortable.”

Council President Bill Boyce asked Bonsteel about the weather protection difference between the two stations.

“Kent-Des Moines has about 80 percent canopy coverage so just about anywhere you’re standing on the platform you can be covered,” Bonsteel said. “At 272nd, the canopy is south loaded and so are the stairs. So if you want to get off the train at the north end. … the way the design is there’s not a lot of coverage at the north end. We’re still resolving what kind of coverage makes the most sense for both of those stations.”

Sound Transit and city staff agreed that neither parking garage next to the stations will have ground-floor retail space. Sound Transit has been unable to rent the commercial space it has at the Angle Lake Station.

“Neither of the garages will have commercial on the ground floor but the Kent-Des Moines station garage will be convertible to retail,” Bonsteel said. “The garage at South 272nd will not be convertible to retail so we will grant a deviation for that.”

The potential removal of retail space at the garage caught the attention of Councilwoman Tina Budell, who has told Sound Transit in previous meetings that more parking spaces are needed at the Kent-Des Moines location.

“Does that mean we are going to get an increase in parking spaces?” Budell said. “As I’ve said over and over again, 483 is not enough when the one at 272nd is going to get 1,100.”

Linneth Riley-Hall, Sound Transit deputy project director, answered Budell.

“The quick response is the elimination of the retail space does not equate to more parking spaces but that is something we can discuss,” Riley-Hall said.

Boyce jumped into the discussion.

“At the end of the day, parking is extremely important to us,” Boyce said. “I know it is a challenge for your team but it is a big concern for us.”

“We do understand it is a concern for the city,” Riley-Hall said.

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