Federal Way’s downtown landscape is rapidly changing with the recent installation of elevated light rail tracks over South 320th Street.
On July 27, Sound Transit installed the Federal Way Link Extension tracks over Federal Way’s main roadway. The elevated light rail tracks are the first infrastructure built over South 320th Street in city history.
Concrete tracks connect the Federal Way Link Extension route to the Tacoma Dome Link Extension route, which begins on the south side of 320th Street in the corner of the mall parking lot near the Target store.
The Tacoma Dome route will add approximately 10 miles to the regional light rail system and the earliest service may begin is in 2032, according to Sound Transit.
For the Federal Way Link Extension, three stations will serve the 7.8-mile extension from Angle Lake in SeaTac to Federal Way scheduled to open in 2024. The other two stations are in Kent, near 30th Avenue South and Pacific Highway South and at South 272nd Street near Interstate 5. Parking garages are part of all three stations.
The incoming Federal Way Downtown Station was recently named, approved by the Sound Transit Board approved the name at its June 23 meeting. From this station, the route connects to the Tacoma Dome line and travels alongside I-5 south.
Near South 348th Street in Federal Way, the preferred alternative route crosses over Enchanted Parkway South by Costco where the project plans to have a South Federal Way Station near South 352nd Street — not yet named — before continuing on toward Fife and downtown Tacoma, according to Sound Transit project plans.
No decisions have been made regarding the South Federal Way station, said John Gallagher, media relations supervisor for Sound Transit. But the Enchanted Parkway alternative was deemed the preferred alternative by the board in 2019.
Confirmation, or changes, of preferred alternatives will take place after the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been published.
The Sound Transit board will confirm the preferred alternative routes and stations, but a specific date has not been set, according to Gallagher.
In December 2021, the board approved the South 336th Street site in Federal Way as the preferred alternative for the incoming Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) South.
South 336th Street alternative location is a 59-acre site between South 336th Street and South 341st Place and between I-5 and Pacific Highway 99. The cost is projected to be approximately $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.
The OMF South will house 144 light rail vehicles for maintenance, cleaning and storage; it will also provide 470 living wage, union jobs with an opening expected in late 2029.
If confirmed as the site, the South 336th Street location displaces about 73 residents and two churches. Sound Transit’s board is expected to confirm the location later this year.