In November, Sound Transit released updated design information for the Federal Way Link light rail extension, which Kiewit Infrastructure West Company will construct. While the station design concepts generally did not change all that significantly since we last covered the project design in 2017, there are some notable station layout revisions and more details on planned station artwork. Sound Transit plans to open the 7.8-mile extension in 2024, which will add three stations south of Angle Lake Station–the current southern terminus of the Central Link line.
Through December 13th, Sound Transit is also taking feedback on possible station names. Eight station names have been pitched among the three stations, though the public can propose their own alternatives. The names being circulated by Sound Transit include the following:
- Kent Des Moines Station and Kent/Des Moines Road Station;
- Star Lake Station and S 272nd Street Station; and
- Federal Way Transit Center, Federal Way Downtown, Federal Way City Center, and Federal Way Town Square.
Kent/Des Moines Station
The current plan for the station layout at Kent/Des Moines is mostly the same as what Sound Transit shared in 2017. The station will be elevated, located just east of SR-99 and straddling both sides of S 236th St. Design refinements involve the light changes to the layout of platform entries and plaza spaces. Bigger design refinements are planned for the parking garage layout and access.
Three artists have been chosen to design various elements of the station. Michelle de la Vega will create artwork for the plaza planned outside of the parking garage. Her conceptual design takes inspiration from local family trees and will form an interesting visual design. Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton of RE:site Studio will design the artwork to appear on the station itself. Their design will draw inspiration from the local landscape and be featured on station windows. A fourth artist, Christopher Paul Jordan, will be commissioned to design artwork for the station parking garages at Kent/Des Moines as well as S 272nd St.
S 272nd St Station
The biggest layout refinement for the S 272nd St station is the bus loop and layover facilities. Rather than run a bus loop around the parking garage, Sound Transit is opting for a more compact version consolidated north of the parking garage and closer to the station platforms. The kiss-and-ride area will also be slightly moved to accommodate the loop. Pedestrian access through the site will generally benefit from the redesign, presenting less conflict points. Another notable change is the platforms themselves, which will be side platforms instead of center platforms.
Tory and Eroyn Franklin have been selected as the primary artists for the station at S 272nd St. Their approach to art has traditionally been storytelling through illustrations and comics. The design inspiration for the station is intended to be edible plants, which are representative of the local valley’s nature, agricultural history, and Native American heritage.
Federal Way Transit Center Station
The station site layout for Federal Way, however, has taken a turn for the worse since the 2017 proposal. While one of the blocks will be directly incorporated into the station island, providing future transit-oriented redevelopment opportunities, the overall concept would deliver a very auto-dominated experience to the station. That is because Sound Transit has drawn up a design that would expand the roundabout at S 317th St further south, stretch the footprint of the existing transit center to provide more bus layover space, and provide an even bigger kiss-and-ride area south of the station platforms. Together, these design changes will create a worse transit experience for riders and degrade the walkability of this key node within Federal Way’s city center.
Federal Way’s city center is already heavily auto-dominated, but Sound Transit needlessly adding to that challenge is a head-scratching choice. Perhaps planners will reconsider the design choice prior to finalizing construction permits to avoid permanently hamstringing future walkability and transit-oriented development opportunities for the area.
Three artists have been chosen to create installations for different elements of the Federal Way station. Catherine Widgery will design the platform and interior artwork using colorful, interactive illumination that emphasize the station architecture. Donald Lipski has been commissioned to design the plaza artwork and Christine Nguyen will create photograph panel artwork for the exterior of the parking garage expansion.
Sound Transit plans to break ground on the Federal Way Link extension in the spring of next year. Construction is expected to wrap up in 2024, with service beginning that same year. For now, the public can weigh in on possible station names and learn about the project design through December 13th. But possible project refinements may still be possible.
Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. With stints in great cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use and transportation issues and has been with The Urbanist since 2014.