Kent questions Sound Transit estimate to build on Dick’s, landfill sites
An estimate from Sound Transit claiming that it would cost significantly more to build a new maintenance facility on the former Midway Landfill than on the current site of a new Dick’s Drive-In is being called into question by the City of Kent.
Back in January, news broke that Sound Transit was vetting locations to construct a 30-acre facility to clean and maintain trains for the South Link light rail. On the shortlist is the property that currently hosts Kent’s new Dick’s Drive-In, that opened just last December. Also on the list is the former Midway Landfill site, just a half-mile away from Dick’s.
Only now, Sound Transit estimates that building on Midway Landfill will cost upwards of $1.3 billion, $500 million more than its estimate for what it needs to build on the Dick’s site.
Those estimates include costs for property acquisition, relocation costs, construction, and building tracks to connect to the light rail line.
For the landfill site, Sound Transit would have to cover the entire area with a three-foot concrete platform.
“It’s going to require us to draw piles down through the cap into the garbage for stability purposes,” Sound Transit’s Scott Thompson told MyNorthwest. “That’s where a lot of the cost comes from, the construction and stability purposes for building on the landfill.”
For Dick’s, “you’re not incurring the same sort of costs of having to put a concrete pad down over land,” he added.
Meanwhile, the City of Kent has its own doubts over the preliminary estimates provided by Sound Transit.
“Our staff strongly believe one of the alternatives for the former landfill site is way high,” City Public Works Director Tim LaPorte told Kent City Council’s Public Works Committee. “We do not concur with the numbers that we have seen come from the consultant being utilized by Sound Transit.”
That quickly led to the Public Works committee approving spending for $100,000 to hire an outside engineering consultant to come up with an estimate of its own.
“We welcome any other engineering options that folks want to present to us as well,” Thompson noted. “We’re open to look at other options, or if other people have better ideas of ways to build on a landfill, we definitely would want to look at that, entertain that, and evaluate that.”
Dick’s Drive-In Executive Vice President Jasmine Donovan shares Kent’s doubts, citing a Sound Transit presentation to Federal Way Council in February that “said these numbers were so preliminary, that they are effectively useless in evaluating the true cost.”
“Our community deserves better information about the true capital cost of using that site to build the OMFS,” Donovan told MyNorthwest. “The cost to the community of losing the businesses and jobs of the Midway Shopping center including a Lowe’s, Starbucks, Dick’s Drive-In, a nail salon, a GoaTea, a Dominos and the disruption of planned development around the Kent Light Rail Station should be given as much consideration by Sound Transit.”
In terms of the accuracy of those preliminary numbers, Thompson described the estimates “as accurate as the information we have at this early stage.”
“Once the Sound Transit Board selects sites to move into the Environmental Impact Study phase we will go a much deeper drive on those sites,” he said.
Thompson doesn’t expect Kent’s hiring of the outside engineering firm to slow the process. Currently, Sound Transit is weighing six total sites: Two different configurations on Midway Landfill, the Dick’s property, two just south of the Federal Way Transit Center, and one in unincorporated King County on the east side of I-5.
Sound Transit will also be hosting open houses for public comments between 6 and 8 p.m. on March 12 at the Federal Way Performing Arts Center, and on March 20 at Highline College. You can also send comments online to [email protected]
Come May, findings and public comments will be presented to the Sound Transit board, where they’ll then pick a site to move forward with on an environment impact report.