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.
This video shows the proposed Federal Way Link extension and stations and includes audio narration. (Sound Transit)

Kent/Des Moines Station

Rendering of the elevated station for Kent/Des Moines. (Sound Transit)
Rendering of the elevated station for Kent/Des Moines. (Sound Transit)

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.

Current site plan for the Kent/Des Moines station. (Sound Transit)
Current site plan for the Kent/Des Moines station. (Sound Transit)
2017 site plan for the Kent/Des Moines station. (Sound Transit)
2017 site plan for the Kent/Des Moines station. (Sound Transit)

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.

The conceptual art design by Michelle de la Vega. (Sound Transit)
The conceptual art design by Michelle de la Vega. (Sound Transit)
A rendering of the conceptual station platform artwork by the RE:site Studio duo Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton. (Sound Transit)
A rendering of the conceptual station platform artwork by the RE:site Studio duo Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton. (Sound Transit)

S 272nd St Station

Rendering of the eastern station face at S 272nd St. (Sound Transit)
Rendering of the eastern station face at S 272nd St. (Sound Transit)

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.

Current site plan for the S 272nd St station. (Sound Transit)
Current site plan for the S 272nd St station. (Sound Transit)
2017 site plan for the S 272nd St station. (Sound Transit)
2017 site plan for the S 272nd St station. (Sound Transit)

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.

Example of artwork by Tory and Eroyn Franklin. (Sound Transit)
Example of artwork by Tory and Eroyn Franklin. (Sound Transit)

Federal Way Transit Center Station

Rendering of the elevated station in Federal Way. (Sound Transit)
Rendering of the elevated station in Federal Way. (Sound Transit)

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.

Current site plan for the Federal Way station. (Sound Transit)
Current site plan for the Federal Way station. (Sound Transit)
2017 site plan for the Federal Way station. (Sound Transit)
2017 site plan for the Federal Way station. (Sound Transit)

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.

Rendering of the illuminated art that Catherine Widgery is designing for the station. (Sound Transit)
Rendering of the illuminated art that Catherine Widgery is designing for the station. (Sound Transit)

Next Steps

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.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I remember there was some controversy about where a new maintenance facility would be located in this area, with the Midway Landfill and the Dick’s Drive-In mentioned as possibilities. What is the status of this proposed maintenance facility? I don’t see it in the video, though perhaps inadvertently the block with the Dick’s is shown in the video as a grassy field all the way to Pacific Highway South. It’s no longer an empty field; there is a Dick’s next to the highway now. Am I reading too much into this?

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