Expansion may be coming for SR-509, thanks to the Panama Canal

By Earline Byers

The city of Des Moines has provided me with these significant details for scheduled transportation improvements in the city in response to my request for information for my column.

This money is available for new projects using grants, but not easily for paving streets as noted below by Mayor Dave Kaplan:

S. 216th Street: The Washington State Transportation Improvement Board awarded the city of Des Moines a $4 million grant for construction of S. 216th Street (24th Avenue to 18th Avenue South) including the 24th Avenue S. intersection. The city plans to advertise this segment for construction in October with construction beginning in the spring of 2013. Construction costs are estimated to be $7.5 million.

24th Avenue South: The city expects a $3 million federal grant for construction of 24th Avenue South (S. 208th Street to S. 216th Street) in July, the project will be advertised in 2013 when the federal funds become available, and construction will be substantially completed in 2014. Total estimated road construction costs are estimated at $7.3 million.


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.


Press release:

The Port of Seattle Commission has honored three airlines as winners of the 2012 Fly Quiet Awards for their efforts in 2011 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Alaska, Virgin America and SkyWest Airlines were honored for their strong commitment to noise reduction.

These awards highlight what can be accomplished when an airport and airline work together on noise reduction:
Fly Quiet Bravo Award – Alaska Airlines Awarded to the quietest airline among the top five carriers at Sea-Tac. 
Alaska has replaced their older MD80s with newer Boeing 737s, creating a quieter fleet of aircraft. Alaska has also been a key partner with the Port and the FAA to pioneer the Greener Skies Initiative, which is developing quieter and more fuel efficient approaches set to be implemented by 2013.

Fly Quiet Award – Virgin America
. Awarded to the quietest airline among all other carriers at Sea-Tac. 
 Virgin America has a full fleet of newer Airbus A320 and A319 aircraft and consistently excels in adhering to noise abatement flight procedures. 


Press release:

The Hyde Shuttle began operating a combined route in the cities of SeaTac and Tukwila June 4. The Hyde Shuttle provides free rides to seniors (55 years of age or older) and to people with disabilities.
It is a cooperative venture between Senior Services (an agency promoting the well-being of older adults) and King County Metro.

The awarding of the route follows several weeks of discussion between the two cities and Senior Services. Available resources from Senior Services and Metro, coupled with a demonstrated need for increased accessible transportation in SeaTac and Tukwila, along with some fortunate timing of the request, have combined to make this possible.

The Hyde Shuttle provides door to door transportation for qualified individuals to various local destinations including grocery stores, senior centers, medical appointments and other neighboring venues.

It will not, however, provide rides to the airport. The shuttle operates Monday – Friday, with general hours between 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Metro Transit’s E and F lines expected to provide up to 4 million annual bus rides

Press release:

King County Executive Dow Constantine on Thursday, June 14 recommended alignments and station locations for two more RapidRide lines connecting Burien with Renton and Shoreline with Seattle.

The F Line in South King County will travel from the Burien Transit Center – via SeaTac and Tukwila – to downtown Renton, with a possible future extension to The Landing in North Renton. It will stop at both the Link light rail and Sounder train stations in Tukwila, plus connect workers to jobs at Sea-Tac Airport, Boeing worksites, and the Southcenter retail area.

“Implementation of the F Line is more than just moving people from one place to another,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “This east-west connection is about creating more opportunity for people to access jobs, services and shopping in South King County.

“With links to Link light rail and the Sounder, people of South County will have access to mobility options like never before.”


What about the restrooms at the end of the light-rail line?

That was the controversial question before the SeaTac City Council June 12 as they discussed the proposed South 200th Street Station development agreement between the city and Sound Transit.

City of SeaTac program manager Soraya Lowry said restrooms would be part of the retail development at the station.

Sound Transit project director Miles Haupt noted his agency does not normally operate and maintain restroom facilities at light-rail stations.

But SeaTac Councilman Barry Ladenburg questioned whether bathrooms would be available before the retail spaces are developed. He also said the restrooms should be open after businesses close for the night for light-rail riders.

Councilman Rick Forschler noted the station would be at the end of the line until light rail is extended to Des Moines or Kent. He said that while many patrons at other stations may live near them, many riders at the last station might travel from farther away. He said the operation and maintenance of the restrooms should be shared.

“This is a weak area (in the agreement) that needs to be patched,” Forschler said.

SeaTac lawmakers debate restrooms at the end of the light-rail line
Photo credit: 
Photo by Steve Shay

What about the restrooms at the end of the light-rail line? That was the controversial question before the SeaTac City Council June 12 as they discussed the proposed South 200th Street Station development agreement between the city and Sound Transit. Pictured is the June 7 open house at Madrona Elementary School addressing some design issues to the public. The above-ground line will run along 28th Ave. south for 1.6 miles beyond the Sea Tac Airport stop.

Take the family on a Father’s Day bike ride on the second Burien Bike SaFaRi of 2012, Sunday, June 17.

The ride will follow a quiet, flat, 3.5 mile loop that connects Burien’s Town Square with several parks, community spaces, and schools to the north.
A lot of locals enjoy strolling along the nice, wide sidewalks along 4th Avenue SW, but fewer folks have discovered some of the quiet streets – such as 6th Avenue SW – that serve as safe, pleasant north-south connectors for people walking or bicycling to school, parks, the community center or downtown Burien.

SaFaRi bike riders will meet up at 2:00 pm and begin the ride at the grassy knoll in the middle of Burien Town Square. With playground stops for kids, plan to be back at Town Square by 3:30pm, just in time to get the charcoal started for that Father’s Day BBQ!

Burien’s Wild Strawberry Festival will be going on at the same time. Ride your bikes up to the Festival, take a break for a Bike SaFaRi, then finish off back at the Festival.


Four students from Aviation High School are among the 160 high school juniors from across the state who have qualified for a spot in the Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS) Summer Residency program.
Savannah Mattson, Tran Tonnu, Jacob Wagner, and Dustin Werran competed against nearly 300 students for acceptance into the Summer Residency.

They began in December by completing eight online lessons and a final project developed by NASA. Their academic performance on the WAS Phase One curriculum qualified the four AHS students for the Phase Two residency program.
As their final project, students created a proposal for a future colony on Mars.  They were challenged to design a colony capable of sustaining 30 colonists for an extended period of time and to create a visual design of their colony.  Top designs will be displayed at the Museum of Flight.

Rental Car Facility to Open Thursday

Press release:

Starting the evening of Monday, May 14, and through early Thursday morning, May 17, there will be night-time lane closures on westbound State Route 518, International Blvd, Air Cargo Rd, S 170th St, S 160th St, and the Airport roadway system to support the installation of roadway signage for the opening of the new Rental Car Facility.

Monday, May 14 to Tuesday, May 15
Between 8:00 pm and 4:00am construction crews will have lanes closed on S 170th St and Air Cargo Rd. Travel lanes will be open through the construction work zones to support traffic.

Between 11:30pm and 4:30am construction crews will have two lanes closed on the southbound lanes of the Northern Airport Expressway. Travel lanes will be open through the construction work zones to support traffic.

Tuesday, May 15 to Wednesday, May 16
Between 8:00pm and 11:00pm construction crews will have lanes closed on eastbound State Route 518 in the vicinity of the Airport exit. Travel lanes will be open through the construction work zones to support traffic.

Facility open to the public on May 17

While few Highline residents may use the Sea-Tac Airport’s new consolidated rental car facility, its opening on May 17 will bring local benefits.

With the twelve rental car companies all consolidated in one location away from the airport, congestion along SeaTac city streets and airport roadways will be reduced, along with the resulting pollution from the vehicles.

The project also generated $25 million in local taxes as well as creating 3,900 local construction jobs during the great recession. Up to 350 trades people worked at the site at one time.

The massive five-story, $2.1 million square foot facility is located at South 160th Street and International Boulevard. The building, which is the largest concrete structure on the west coast, is easily visible from State Route 518, just southwest of the Tukwila light rail station.

Although construction has stretched over three years, airport managing director Mark Reis noted at a May 9 pre-opening celebration the project has been more like a “17-year journey” with several stops and restarts.

Port holds pre-opening ceremony for massive rental car facility
Photo credit: 
Photos by Jerry Gay

Top- Instead of a ribbon cutting for the new rental car facility the Port of Seattle had a ribbon smashing as a shuttle bus drove through a banner held by Port staffers. Bottom- The lobby of the $400 million Sea-Tac Airport rental car facility at International Boulevard and South 160th Street is shiny new as the Port of Seattle holds a pre-opening celebration.

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