Public voices support for not building Sound Transit facility on Dick’s site
A recent report released by Sound Transit revealed a sizable outpouring of support for removing the site of a Kent’s Dick’s Drive-In from consideration for a new light rail maintenance facility.
The report details 950 total public comments related to the Dick’s site, 865 of which supported removing it from consideration. Just 25 wanted the facility there.
Also submitting opposition to using the Dick’s site were a handful of businesses in the area that would be impacted or displaced, including Dick’s, Lowe’s, and more. Primary reasons for opposing the site including “property acquisition and relocation,” and “neighborhood impacts.”
Commenters in favor of the site noted its “cost-effectiveness,” and “fewer impacts to wetlands and other environmentally critical areas.”
Where commenters do want to build
690 comments mentioned the Midway Landfill. Of those, 615 were in favor of using that as the site for the facility, with just 45 opposed.
Sound Transit recently estimated that building on the landfill would 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. Sound Transit would also have to cover the entire area with a three-foot concrete platform for “stability purposes.”
Supporters for building on the landfill cited a “lower number of residential and business displacements, the use of undeveloped land, and the responsibility of the government to clean up an otherwise unusable site.”
Opponents pointed out concerns related to “releasing hazardous materials,” as well as higher construction costs.
Where city officials stand
Earlier in the year, the City of Kent formally petitioned Sound Transit to remove the Dick’s site from consideration, encouraging the use of the Midway Landfill.
Others working for the city have called Sound Transit’s construction estimates for the landfill into question.
“Our staff strongly believe one of the alternatives for the former landfill site is way high,” City Public Works Director Tim LaPorte recently 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.”
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 in March.
Kent’s Public Works committee even recently approved $100,000 in spending to hire an outside engineering consultant to come up with an estimate of its own.
The Sound Transit board is scheduled to meet Thursday, May 9, where it will discuss alternative sites for its maintenance facility, where it could potentially eliminate some of the sites on its list right now. On May 23, it will officially pick sites to move forward with long-term.
There are six total sites currently under consideration: Three in Kent, two in Federal way, and one in unincorporated King County.
Once Sound Transit has a shortlist in hand after the May 23 meeting, each of the remaining sites will be subject to an Environmental Impact Statement. A preliminary EIS draft will be published in 2020, followed by a final version in 2021. Construction will kick off shortly after that, with the facility set to open in 2026.
In total, Sound Transit weighed online comments from 3,400 people, in addition to 370 more people at a pair of open houses. 1,400 written communications were submitted, along with 2,500 “comment statements.”