For the record: selecting a site for the Operations and Maintenance Facility South
Sound Transit is preparing to kick off our environmental review for building the new light rail operations and maintenance facility (OMF) in the south corridor to serve our expanding light rail network, including extensions to Kent, Federal Way and Tacoma.
This is one of the two new OMFs required to realize the light rail expansions voters approved in Sound Transit 3.
Sound Transit cannot expand congestion-free light rail service without more capacity to store and maintain trains.
The agency will soon launch a process to engage the public in analyzing options for the facility.
Interest spiked last week with media coverage after the Kent City Council adopted an emergency ordinance seeking to prevent Sound Transit from considering a site at the location of a Lowe’s store and the recently opened Dick’s drive-in.
That site is one of at least six sites currently under consideration. More potential sites could emerge as the process continues.
Identifying a site for an OMF is always challenging because it requires at least 30 relatively flat acres that are near the light rail line, with specific site conditions often pushing the acreage requirement higher.
Sound Transit has emphasized that we are very early in the process.
There are two important steps that must be taken in determining the final location of the southern OMF.
First is a “scoping” phase in which alternative sites are evaluated. This is a three month process, and we are at the very beginning of that process.
Once the scoping phase is completed this coming May, the Sound Transit Board will decide which alternatives should be considered further as part of the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Sound Transit will solicit public comment as part of the upcoming scoping process.
We expect to identify potentially viable sites that meet minimum requirements of size, configuration, proximity to the light rail system, and operational feasibility.
The Sound Transit Board will then consider public and agency input received during the scoping period to identify a range of reasonable alternatives to evaluate in the EIS.
The EIS will take up to a couple of years to complete and then the Board will select the site/location to be built.