Sounder station access improvements to be heard on Feb. 6

PuyalluP: Mayor expresses opposition to any kind of structured parking garage downtown

of the HeraldJanuary 29, 2014 

Sound Transit riders will get an opportunity to review what’s been discussed regarding access improvement investments for the Puyallup station during an open house Feb. 6 at Puyallup High School.

“Later this spring, there will be opportunity for the public to look at different packages of improvement options that include parking, pedestrian and bike access improvements,” said Nytasha Sowers, Sound Transit’s project manager. “This summer will take forward to the board of directors the results of the evaluations of the packages and ask them what packages should be taken forward.”

Sowers said the board will recommend which packages should be taken into the environmental review process at that time.

“We will look at the benefits as well as the impacts on the natural environment or built environment,” she said.

Sowers said that would include what kind of benefits it provides in terms of ridership and air quality, plus a range of impacts on city infrastructure, such as traffic congestion.

Sowers summarized what will be presented next month during the city council meeting on Jan. 21. She highlighted how the Puyallup Sound Transit station accommodates about 1,000 riders and will accommodate an additional 660 riders by 2035.

“That’s assuming 13 trains running during the day,” Sowers said. “Right now, we have 10 trains. Three more will be in service by 2017.”

Access improvement investments for the Puyallup station, which would include bicycle or pedestrian access, or possibly additional satellite parking and/or surface and structured parking, were part of the 2010-12 Sound Transit Access Study that focused on eight stations, including Puyallup and Sumner.

Sound Transit has $52 million earmarked for access improvements to the Puyallup station. The money was approved by voters as part of the ST 2 funding package in 2008.

Sowers said the agency plans to make the investments before 2023.

Last April, the Puyallup City Council, along with Sound Transit staff and board members, formed a Puyallup Leadership Working Group that met three times to discuss ideas for improved access to the Puyallup station.

The process has Puyallup Deputy Mayor John Hopkins questioning why it’s taken so long for Sound Transit to act.

“I’m flabbergasted at the glacial pace of this process,” Hopkins said.

Last week, Sowers addressed the demand for more parking, which could be surface or structured. Possible locations for a garage, if the Sound Transit board approve it, could be the Cornforth Campbell lot at 3rd Street Southeast and East Meeker, or the Eagles lot at 5th Street Northwest and 4th Avenue Northwest.

“In the southeast corner of the Cornforth Campbell lot, there is a building that would need to be taken down,” Sowers said. “It’s not occupied. The Eagles said they are open to relocation, and we would help them find a new space. We understand that their board would have to make a decision. Our initial conversations have been positive.”

Sowers said a garage on the Eagles lot would cover the existing Eagles building and require the vacation of the Third Avenue West city block. It also would require the removal of the Snyder Oil building.

“It’s vacant, and they’re open to selling,” Sowers said.

Any vacationing of Third Avenue West would require Puyallup City Council approval.

Hopkins said he is not opposed to downtown parking garages, but he wouldn’t want any undue traffic impacts. He added he’s open to dispersed parking, which could include satellite options.

Sowers said Sound Transit is considering the feasibility of a satellite lot on Shaw Road, but shuttle service would still need to be determined, and Sound Transit would not provide it.

“I would entertain looking at the development of the Cornforth Campbell lot as long as we didn’t lose any parking,” Hopkins said.

Puyallup Mayor John Knutsen said any thought of building structured parking downtown should be off the table.

“(Sound Transit’s) only solution is to destroy downtown Puyallup,” Knutsen told Sowers. “Sound Transit shouldn’t take cars off the road and dump them into Puyallup and Sumner.”

Knutsen said Pierce County should be part of the solution and that a commuter station could be built near Shaw Road between Puyallup and Sumner.

“Pierce County has to step up to the plate,” Knutsen said.

If you go

An open house will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Puyallup High School, 105 7th St. SW.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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