Sound Transit expedites South 200th Street light rail extension

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Accelerated schedule will extend light rail service south from Sea-Tac Airport four years early, to open with University Link in 2016.

The Sound Transit Board today approved accelerating construction of the South Link light rail extension from Sea-Tac Airport to South 200th Street. The South 200th Link project includes a 1.6-mile, elevated guideway and station with a planned opening in September, 2016-four years earlier than envisioned in the voter-approved Sound Transit 2 plan, and at the same time University Link service will begin.

"Moving forward with construction of the South 200th light rail extension earlier than planned is an exciting opportunity for South King County," said Aaron Reardon, Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive. "In just a few short years, thousands of south county residents every day will be able to enjoy fast, efficient light rail service to the airport, downtown Seattle and the University of Washington, with numerous connections to other major employment centers throughout the region."

The South 200th extension will run south from Sea-Tac Airport on an elevated guideway along 28th Avenue South to South 200th Street. The elevated station will include passenger platforms with covered waiting areas, a transfer area for local and rapid ride bus connections, dedicated areas for passenger pickup and drop off, and vanpool parking. Secured bicycle storage, street improvements to accommodate traffic circulation, bicycle and pedestrian access, landscaping and public art are also elements of the project.

A 700-stall park-and-ride garage and up to 400 interim surface spaces will provide parking for commuters using the South 200th station. The additional parking capacity will provide an alternative to parking at the Tukwila International Boulevard light rail station and accommodate parking south of the airport while the South 200th Station serves as an interim southern terminus.

"Extending light rail to S. 200th Street in the City of SeaTac will provide much needed transit access to the people of South King County, helping workers get to jobs, students get to school, and further allowing transit riders options to travel to destinations across the region. The station will also provide great opportunities for economic activity and development, something vitally important as we climb out of this economic recession," said King County Councilmember Julia Patterson. "I also want to thank the City of SeaTac and the Port of Seattle for working so cooperatively with Sound Transit - with these strong partnerships we will accelerate the delivery of this critical project."

The decision to accelerate the construction and operation of the light rail extension from Sea-Tac Airport to South 200th Street was based on the project's state of readiness to move forward with final design and construction, its potential to increase ridership, and its capacity to provide additional system parking concurrent with the opening of the University Link project. The agency is also in a position to take advantage of a favorable bidding climate. Sound Transit plans to use a design-build delivery method for the project.

The project is estimated to cost $383.2 million in year of expenditure dollars. Sound Transit will apply for a federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. Based on the size of the South 200th extension, if awarded the grant could be between $28 to $34 million. Grant funding received would be added to the financial capacity of the South King County subarea.

By 2018, the South 200th Station will serve an estimated 2,700 boardings on an average weekday. The stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington will serve 11,800 and 14,900 riders each weekday, respectively. System-wide, 25 million transit users will ride Link in 2018. By 2030, Link light rail will serve 260,000 people each weekday.