Sound Transit is wrapping up final design work for improvements to the Sumner Sounder Train Station that aims to provide easier access for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The project includes the construction of a 623-stall parking garage downtown along Harrison and Narrow streets. Approximately 234 surface parking spaces located south of Maple Street, north of Maple Street and at the Red Apple building will remain, bringing the new total of parking spaces to 857 stalls, or 505 more than there are now.
Parking has always been an issue at the station, with available spaces filling up early in the morning and traffic congestion surrounding the station.
“We want to improve the experience, (and) parking is a huge benefit,” Sound Transit community outreach specialist Ryan Bianchi said. “Our trains are getting more and more popular.”
Currently, 13 round trip Sounder trains stop at Sumner’s station, with 1,000 people either riding the train or the express bus. By 2035, ridership is expected to increase by 70 percent. Sound Transit aims to provide parking for 40 percent of its riders while encouraging other non-motorized methods of getting to the station, including walking and biking.
In addition to sidewalk and lighting improvements, Sound Transit is helping fund a separate project by the city of Sumner and the Washington State Department of Transportation to alleviate traffic congestion on Traffic Avenue and state Route 410 by expanding the bridge on East Main Avenue. Sound Transit will focus on non-motorized pathways alongside the bridge toward the station.
The project has garnered $8 million for design, said Carmen Palmer, Sumner’s communications director, and is nearly shovel-ready. It now needs $10 million for construction.
Sound Transit hosted a drop-in session in Sumner last week to get final design comments from community members. Many riders were concerned with parking.
Veronica Fehrenbacher lives in Sumner and drives to the station with her husband. They’ve lived in Sumner for about a year and a half and both use the train to commute for work.
“I wanted to find out more about (the garage),” Fehrenbacher said. “I think it’s really good because parking here is really difficult. I’m excited about it.”
Fehrenbacher added that it’s been more difficult to keep up with the Restricted Parking Zones (RPZs) on Sumner’s streets. In September, the City Council passed a comprehensive restricted parking zone plan that affects where and how long cars can be parked along residential streets.
Sound Transit is also taking into consideration the outward appearance of the parking garage, which will be four and a half stories tall. Every community is different, Bianchi said.
“If we’re building a structure like this … we don’t want to have a cookie cutter look,” he said. “Most people really want it to fit into Sumner’s downtown. It’s a historic downtown and people are really protective of it.”
Fehrenbacher said she would like the garage to have some nature element to it.
The Sumner Station Improvements Project was approved by voters in 2008 as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure to expand mass transit through the region. The project is estimated to cost $60 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2021.
Those who are interested in sharing their ideas about the project are welcome to complete a survey at soundtransit.org. The survey closes on Friday.