A new parking garage for the Sumner Sounder station is steaming toward approval, despite concerns by some that the 4 1/2-story building might clash with the city’s small-town feel and attract even more traffic to an area already choked with cars.
The Sumner City Council and the capital committee of the Sound Transit board gave their blessings to the $52.4 million project last week.
The only remaining hurdle is the full board of Sound Transit, which would pay to build and then own and maintain the garage. On May 26, the full board is expected to take up, and most likely approve, the project.
Most of the money for the garage was earmarked in a 2008 voter-approved ballot measure that increased taxes and fees to raise money for regional transit projects.
Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow, also a member of the Sound Transit board, said last week he supports the garage as proposed by Sound Transit staff members.
They have recommended a 623-stall garage on Sound Transit property at the station. The proposed garage would result in a net increase of 505 parking slots at the station.
Sound Transit estimates about 1,000 people use the Sumner station each weekday, either taking a Sounder train or an express bus north toward Seattle. The agency predicts a 70 percent increase in ridership by 2035.
“That station was out of parking three weeks after it opened, which I believe was in 2000,” Enslow said during last week’s Sound Transit capital committee meeting. “Parking down there is a very valued thing.”
Sumner City Councilman Steve Allsop opposes the project as recommended.
In an April 29 letter to fellow council members, Allsop said the city should hold Sound Transit to a 3 1/2-story garage the agency once agreed to.
Adding another floor with its additional stalls will only encourage more out-of-town commuters to flood into Sumner on weekdays to catch the Sounder train north, Allsop wrote.
“We are drowning in traffic,” he said. “We are derelict in our duty to preserve this town’s character if we don’t do absolutely everything in our power to limit traffic volumes.”
His pleas failed to sway a majority of his colleagues, who voted 5-2 to support the 4 1/2-story garage.
Sound Transit also has tentatively agreed to contribute $5 million for “nonmotorized improvements” at the interchange of Traffic Avenue and state Route 410, a choke point that contributes to congestion in the city during rush hours.
Sumner has been lobbying the state and others for help in rebuilding that interchange to alleviate traffic congestion.
If the Sound Transit board approves the garage, construction could begin in 2019 with the garage coming online in 2021.