Federal Way megachurch Christian Faith Center is located within the South 336th Street area and will be impacted if the location is made the final selection for the light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility South. COURTESY PHOTO/Bruce Honda

Federal Way megachurch Christian Faith Center is located within the South 336th Street area and will be impacted if the location is made the final selection for the light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility South. COURTESY PHOTO/Bruce Honda

Sound Transit picks Federal Way site for light rail vehicle facility

Board committee recommends South 336th location over Midway Landfill in Kent

A Sound Transit Board committee has recommended the South 336th Street site in Federal Way for a new light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility.

The System Expansion Committee voted 6-0 during a virtual meeting on Dec. 9 for the site over the former Midway Landfill in Kent and a South 344th Street location in Federal Way.

“It’s affordable with our realignment financial plan, has about half as many residential and business displacements (as South 344th) and it keeps the Tacoma Dome Link and West Seattle Link extensions on schedule,” said Claudia Balducci, chair of the committee and a King County Councilmember, who proposed the recommendation to select the South 336th Street site.

Sound Transit plans to extend light rail to the Tacoma Dome and West Seattle in 2032. The agency plans to open the 7.8-mile Federal Way Link Extension from SeaTac to Federal Way in 2024. The maintenance facility is scheduled to open in 2029.

The recommendation goes to the full 18-member board on Dec. 16. Once approved by the full board, Sound Transit staff will do further study before final approval by the board is expected in late 2022. Sound Transit plans to open the facility serve 144 light rail vehicles. It will employ about 470 people who are expected to make at least $80,000 per year based on payments at the agency’s facility in South Seattle.

The South 336th Street alternative location is a 59-acre site between South 336th Street and South 341st Place and between Interstate 5 and Pacific Highway South, aka State Route 99. The option is projected to cost about $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.

If selected as the site, South 336th will include the removal of the large Christian Faith Center megachurch, 33645 20th Ave. S., and two businesses with about 94 employees. This site would cause 73 residential evictions.

Residents, businesses and churches displaced by the project would receive compensation and relocation assistance consistent with federal and state relocation requirements, along with Sound Transit’s Real Property Acquisition and Relocation policies.

Despite recommendations to pick the Midway Landfill by several Federal Way residents and business owners as well as the Federal Way City Council, nobody on the committee favored the landfill because of much higher costs and a longer timeline. The landfill sits west of I-5, east of Pacific Highway South and between South 244th and South 252nd streets.

Balducci said the landfill site would have the fewest impacts to residents and businesses. But staff reports showed total costs of $2.2 billion to $2.8 billion, nearly $600 million to $1.1 billion higher than the Federal Way sites, and a longer construction schedule by a few years that could delay the opening of lines to Tacoma and West Seattle.

“I’m convinced construction costs and the timeline would be too risky of a choice to pursue,” Balducci said.

The costs are higher at the former landfill because crews must do a lot of work below ground to address settlement prior to building the facility at the Superfund site, according to Sound Transit. A 3.5-foot thick concrete slab platform would be supported on approximately 700 concrete-filled drill shafts.

Board and committee member Dave Upthegrove, a King County Councilmember whose district includes the landfill, agreed with Balducci.

“I wish the Midway site could work for so many reasons but the costs, delays and risk make it clearly not in the public interest,” Upthegrove said. “I looked at what is in the public’s interest and that level of cost delay and risk is not in the public’s interest.”

The South 344th Street alternative is a 62-acre location between South 336th Street and South 344th Street and between I-5 and 18th Place South. The alternative is projected to cost about $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.

If selected, this location would remove the Ellenos Yogurt manufacturing facility and GarageTown private storage, along with 11 businesses (217 employees and 60 unit owners). It also displaces three churches.

All three sites will remain as alternatives until the board makes its final selection in late 2022, according to Sound Transit staff. But the recommendation of South 336th Street puts that site as the preferred location to be studied next year and the issuance of a final environmental impact statement.


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A Sound Transit Board committee picked South 336th Street as the preferred site for a new light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility South to open in 2029. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Sound Transit

A Sound Transit Board committee picked South 336th Street as the preferred site for a new light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility South to open in 2029. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Sound Transit

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