A Sound Transit decision about where in Federal Way or Kent to build a new Operations and Maintenance Facility South for light rail vehicles will be delayed as the draft environmental impact statement on the project won’t be done as soon as expected.
The facility needs to be built to service and store more than 140 light rail vehicles, according to Sound Transit. The facility requires at least 30 acres and would employ an estimated 300.
The three sites under consideration are:
■ Midway Landfill, Kent, west of Interstate 5. The landfill has been closed since the 1980s and is owned by Seattle Public Utilities. Estimated cost: $1.3 billion.
■ South 336th Street, Federal Way, near I-5, which is the location of the Christian Faith Center Church and school. Estimated cost: $750 million.
■ South 344th Street, Federal Way, near I-5, which is an industrial area, includes several businesses: Garage Town, which offers private custom storage facility; an RV storage facility; and Ellenos Yogurt Factory. Estimated cost: $800 million.
“COVID-19 has impacted both Sound Transit’s finances and our ability to advance environmental review internally and with our planning partners,” according to a project update emailed Tuesday, Oct. 27 by Sound Transit. “Consequently, the environmental schedule for Operations and Maintenance Facility South has been affected as a result. We now anticipate publishing the OMF South draft environmental impact statement in early 2021. Once published, the public will be able to review and formally comment on the draft environmental impact statement during a public comment period.”
Sound Transit had expected a draft statement to be out in November for public comment.
“The draft environmental impact statement will analyze and document the three site alternatives’ potential impacts to the natural and built environment, and propose ways to address unavoidable impacts,” according to Sound Transit. “We’re also continuing with more conceptual design work, including potential changes to site configurations.”
The Sound Transit Board plans to pick one of the sites in 2021. Sound Transit had expected to open that facility in 2026, but it’s likely that date could be pushed back to 2027 or 2028, said Kelly Peterson, the city of Kent’s Link light rail liaison, in a September report to the Kent City Council.
Sound Transit started construction this year on a 7.8-mile extension of light rail from Angle Lake Station in SeaTac to the Federal Way Transit Center. Two light rail stations will be built in Kent and one in Federal Way. The estimated $3.1 billion project is expected to open for service in 2024.