Sound Transit and Port of Seattle announce agreement for light rail airport connection
Sound Transit and the Port of Seattle today announced an agreement in principle for establishing a Central Link light rail station location and track alignment at Sea-Tac International Airport.
"Making sure light rail connects directly to the Airport has been a major priority of mine during the last year as chair of Sound Transit. We have worked diligently with the Port to meet their needs and ours, " said Sound Transit Board Chairman and King County Executive Ron Sims. "This agreement is a critical step for getting light rail to the airport and beyond."
The agreement in principle, signed by Sound Transit Executive Director Joni Earl and Port of Seattle Executive Director M. R. Dinsmore, identifies a shared conceptual vision for a light rail station next to the airport's existing terminal and parking garage, integrated within the Port's updated plans for expanding the airport.
"We're looking forward to the day when light rail is here to give people a convenient way to get to the airport and to connect two vital economic hubs in our region- the airport and downtown Seattle," said Port of Seattle Commission Chairwoman Patricia Davis. "A thriving city needs a world-class airport to compete in the international economy, and by connecting Seattle's downtown to the airport, the Port of Seattle and Sound Transit are investing in the long-term economic health of the area."
When the light rail line first opens in 2009, shuttle buses will meet light rail passengers at the line's interim southern terminus at SeaTac's South 154th Street and carry them the short remaining distance to the airport.
"This agreement identifies the path we'll follow in working with the Port to develop an alignment south of 154th Street and a station at the airport," Earl said. "We're grateful for the Port's efforts to include light rail in its plans for expanding the airport in response to the region's growing population. The light rail extension will also further improve the accessibility of the area surrounding the airport, which is the second-largest employment center in the region."
"The Port is committed to doing our part in helping this region solve its transportation issues," said M. R. Dinsmore, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Seattle. "We are a transportation gateway to the world through our airport and seaport, but the Port also wants to be a partner in finding transportation solutions right here at home. Transportation improvements are critical to our ability to compete in a global arena."
Details of the connection, including costs and funding scenarios, will be established based on Sound Transit, Port of Seattle and City of SeaTac planning and design decisions. The Sound Transit Board has authorized $10 million to design the light rail extension to the airport, and the Port of Seattle Commission has authorized $10.6 million to develop a Comprehensive Development Plan for the Sea-Tac Airport North End Development program.
The agreement reflects changes to the Port's plans for expanding the airport, including the elimination of an earlier-envisioned northern terminal that Sound Transit's earlier plans depended on. The Port's current plans call for incrementally expanding the existing airport terminal to the north and east, making room in part by building a new North Airport Expressway. The light rail alignment runs down the center of the expressway.
The Port and Sound Transit will work together in 2003 and 2004 to finish identifying specific locations and relationships between the light rail corridor, light rail alignment, light rail station, North Expressway relocation, utilidors (large utility tunnels) and possible automated people-mover facilities.
The agreement calls for the Port to move forward with timely relocation of the North Expressway to create the median where the light rail line will run. An initial step will be the Port's targeted June 2005 completion of sufficient design for the expressway for Sound Transit to move forward with preliminary engineering, environmental review and final design for the light rail extension.
The station will be developed on Port property on the western edge of International Boulevard in the vicinity of South 173rd to 175th Streets. Passenger access to International Boulevard is envisioned to be designed in conjunction with the City of SeaTac.
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