Compromise on SeaTac light-rail restrooms flushed out

There will be restrooms at the end of the (light-rail) line but new federal funding requirements could alter some of the planned off-site mitigations for the new South 200th Street station.

Despite the funding concerns, the SeaTac City Council approved unanimously on June 26 the development agreement between the city and Sound Transit for the new station set to open in September 2016.
Sound Transit will provide the land and build the restrooms as part of the parking and retail structure. However, the restrooms will be operated and maintained using funds from leases of retail space.

Sound Transit will design the restrooms so they can be used after the businesses close in the evening.

At their June 12 meeting, some SeaTac lawmakers voiced concerns about the restrooms being closed after hours, especially with people coming from longing distances to the southern most light-rail station. Other council members said unattended restrooms open at night might be magnets for crime.

Sound Transit project director Miles Haupt noted at the earlier meeting that his agency does not normally operate restrooms at their stations.

Councilman Rick Forschler said he was not happy that operation costs would be borne by retail businesses. If the retail spaces are vacant, there would be no money to maintain the restrooms, he added.

Lowry assured Forschler that city staffers “will do our best to tenant that area.”

Another potential problem cropped up after the council briefing two weeks earlier, according to Sound Transit program manager Mark Johnson.

Sound Transit has always worked under strict federal funding requirements but those requirements may be extended to funds Sound Transit passes on to cities for additional mitigation work, Johnson reported.

Johnson said the two areas of concern would be the purchase of a high-elevation ladder for a new SeaTac fire engine and alternative traffic mitigation plans along 24th/28th Avenue South.

In the development agreement, Sound Transit agreed that if federal requirements raise the budgeted cost of some items, the agency is committed to making reasonable funding changes.

Councilwoman Pam Fernald summarized the attitude of her colleagues and Sound Transit officials by declaring, “It’s a bummer but it will be OK.”

Light rail will be extended 1.6 miles south of the airport/city center station on an elevated guideway to the new station at South 200th Street and 28th Avenue South.

The new station area will include a 700-stall parking garage with another 300-450 interim surface parking stalls.

A contractor will be selected in August with construction set to begin in the spring and the opening scheduled for September 2016.

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