Sound Transit expands Sounder layover facilities as ridership grows, selects Shimmick Construction to design, build expansion

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Expanded layover yard in Lakewood will accommodate more train sets as agency prepares to add another south line train this fall, two more roundtrips next year

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today selected Shimmick Construction to design and build a $13.2 million expansion of the agency’s Sounder layover facilities in Lakewood. The improvements, which include adding a third track to the existing yard, will enable Sound Transit to store more Sounder train cars for its popular Lakewood-to-Seattle service as the agency prepares to add three round-trip trains to meet demand.

“Sounder commuter rail is more popular than ever,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This fall we’re adding another weekday round trip between Lakewood, Tacoma, South King County and Seattle, and two more in 2017.”

Ten round-trip trains now operate on the south line. The agency added a new round trip in 2013, a year after Sounder began service to Lakewood. A second round-trip train in September will add late-morning and late-afternoon service. Two peak-service round-trip trains will roll out next year.

Sounder ridership continues to experience double-digit growth. During the third quarter last year, average weekday ridership between Lakewood and Seattle increased 15 percent compared to the same period last year. Game day trains to select Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders FC home events are also a big hit with sports fans.

When complete in 2017, the expanded layover facility will have the capacity to store up to seven eight-car train sets. Six seven-car train sets are stored there today. When additional Sounder service starts this fall, crews will operate seven seven-car trains. The third track will be finished by December to accommodate storage for new passenger cars being delivered in 2016 and 2017.

Other elements of the expansion include permanent office space and parking for crew members, and new fencing, guard booths and surveillance systems for added yard security. Enhanced wayside power, air, water, fire protection and upgraded yard lighting will reduce energy use and support night-time train cleaning.

Voters approved the additional trains and Sounder Yard Expansion in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The new round trips require placing additional train sets into service. The existing layover facility is at capacity and must be expanded to allow for storage of additional equipment. Nine new Sounder train cars will begin arriving late this fall.

With the region’s population projected to grow by 1 million people by 2040, commuters are demanding more transit services. A list of candidate projects for a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure is being reviewed by the Sound Transit Board. This spring, the Board will seek input on a draft Sound Transit 3 package. Members of the public can sign up to receive updates here: http://soundtransit3.org/connect.