The city of Kent will apply to Sound Transit for two grants worth a total of $1.2 million to improve pedestrian access to the Sounder train.
Sound Transit will provide up to $10 million for projects (from 2019 to 2025) in South King County that make access easier and safer through better sidewalks, protected bike lanes, shared-use paths, bus-rail integration or new pick-up and drop-off areas around light rail and Sounder stations. Cities in South King County, King County itself and King County Metro are eligible for the grants and can apply for as many as two with no matching funds required.
Kent is seeking a grant of $800,000 for lighting and pedestrian wayfinding along West James Street and West Smith Street between the James Street Park & Ride lot and Kent Sounder Station.
“The proposed project will increase utilization of the Park & Ride, decrease congestion near Kent Station and improve the safety and pedestrian experience along the pedestrian route,” according to city documents.
Because the Kent Station parking garage fills up early weekday mornings with commuters, city staff wants to encourage people to use the Park & Ride lot and walk to catch the train. Commuters also have parked in the Mill Creek neighborhood near the Sounder Station, but the city will make it illegal to park on those streets starting in the fall after residents complained about commuters filling up the streets with parked vehicles.
City staff has requested that the James/Smith streets pedestrian project start in 2020 and be completed in 2021.
The second request from Kent is for a $250,000 grant for a pedestrian crossing on West James Street at Second Avenue North. The project would include a rapid flash beacon that pedestrians could activate by pushing a button. People often cross illegally in the area across from the North Park neighborhood, according to city documents.
There have been two reported pedestrian-vehicle accidents and two bicyclist crashes in that area in the past five years, according to city staff. The work on the new crosswalk would start in 2020 and be finished in 2021.
Sound Transit staff will evaluate the applications, which are due April 12, and have a public comment period in late May to late June. Agency staff will rank each project as either highly recommended, recommended or not recommended. The Sound Transit Executive Committee will recommend on July 18 which projects for the full Sound Transit Board to select on July 25.
Funds for the projects were approved by voters as part of the ST3 package in November 2016.
City staff – with help from Mayor Dana Ralph – chose the West Smith/James street improvements and the James Street crossing at Second Avenue North over four other proposed projects.
“It’s a low enough dollar where we can compete, and there are no obstacles with right-of-way or major issues to stall it,” said April Delchamps, city senior transportation planner, at the council’s Public Works Committee meeting April 1. “It’s a low enough number that we could get funded for both of them.”
The other projects city staff looked at included West James Street bicycle and pedestrian improvements at a cost of $3.5 million (a high cost because of crossing the railroad tracks); smart bike storage space at Kent Sounder station for $500,000; pedestrian improvements along South 240th Street from Pacific Highway South to 30th Avenue South at a cost of $800,000; and pedestrian improvements along South 272nd Street from the southbound Interstate 5 off-ramp to Military Road South for $6 million (a high cost because of changes to the walls and columns that support the freeway overpass).
City Public Works Director Tim LaPorte told the council committee the South 272nd Street work could be something done down the road by funding from the Legislature. Sound Transit will build light rail stations near 30th Avenue South and at South 272nd Street near I-5 as part of the Federal Way Link Extension to be completed in 2024.