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Sound Transit selects preferred route for Federal Way light-rail extension

Sound Transit's board late last week identified a preferred alternative for extending light rail to Kent/Des Moines, Wash., and eventually to Federal Way.

The route would travel along the west side of Interstate 5 and maximize future transit-oriented development around stations, agency officials said in a press release.

The board picked the route after receiving public feedback on a draft environmental impact statement published in April.

"Identifying a preferred route gives us a clear path forward for bringing light rail to Federal Way," said Sound Transit Chairman and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Now, we can plan how to support jobs and housing near stations along the corridor through transit-oriented development."

The preferred alternative includes a station in Kent/Des Moines on the east side of State Road 99, another in Federal Way at the Star Lake park-and-ride, and a third at the Federal Way Transit Center.

The board now has directed project staff to advance design and complete environmental review, during which staff members will evaluate potential modifications to alignment and station options, agency officials said.

Additionally, the board directed staff to evaluate how Sound Transit and its partner agencies can improve the potential for transit-oriented development at station locations along the corridor. Potential areas of study include improving east-west transit service and improving pedestrian and bicycle access to transit stations.

Sound Transit aims to publish a final environmental impact statement in fall 2016, with the board selecting the project to be built by year's end.

Final design is scheduled to start in 2017, and construction would begin in 2019. Service to Kent/Des Moines is expected to start in 2023.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/27/2015