Sound Transit selects site for Sounder maintenance base

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New facility will store, maintain expanding vehicle fleet for popular regional commuter rail line

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today selected the location for a new Sounder vehicle maintenance base at its rail yard along the Sounder railroad right-of-way between Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest and 100th Street Southwest in Lakewood.

“Sounder ridership from Lakewood and Everett is growing by double-digits,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Current and future demand for commuter rail service requires a maintenance facility that will support running more trains for the increasing number of riders using Sounder to get around.”

“With an additional Sounder south line train starting this fall and two more next year, Sound Transit is doing everything it can to support smooth and efficient operations of this popular and needed service,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and Lakewood City Councilmember Mary Moss.

The 40,000 square-foot facility will house six maintenance bays, yard and ancillary tracks, material storage areas and offices for operations staff. The facility will accommodate 14 locomotives, 40 coach vehicles and 27 cab cars when complete, with enough space to store and maintain 10 additional vehicles. Roadway improvements, site lighting, drainage facilities and utilities infrastructure will also be built.

After the maintenance base is complete, Sound Transit will continue to store train sets in Everett for morning service to Seattle and at the Amtrak facility in SODO during the day to prepare for afternoon service to Lakewood. All Sounder trains for the south and north lines will be maintained and serviced in Lakewood.

The future base, currently estimated at $80 million, will accommodate current service and the three additional weekday Sounder south trains being added by 2017, starting with a mid-day train this fall. Two peak-service trains will begin next year.

Sound Transit identified the Steilacoom Boulevard site after evaluating six potential locations in Everett, the Seattle SODO area and Tacoma. An alternatives analysis identified Lakewood as the preferred site due to its proximity to Sounder railroad tracks and its ability to support commuter rail operations in a corridor that serves 14,535 south line riders on an average weekday. The location also enables Sound Transit to achieve significant cost savings in right-of-way acquisition, since the agency owns the rail line in Lakewood and will likely acquire only two parcels to build the project.

System wide, Sounder ridership increased 17.5 percent in March compared to the same period last year. Ridership on the south and north lines combined reached 361,977, with 16,072 riders taking Sounder on an average weekday.

Voters approved a new Sounder maintenance facility in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 system plan. Conceptual engineering on the project was completed in January. Sound Transit issued a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Checklist and Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) on March 25, 2016.