The Puyallup City Council will hold its second joint meeting with Sound Transit board members and city officials to discuss access and improvement of the transit station in downtown Puyallup.
At the first meeting last week, a facilitator helped the group work through hopes, fears and suggestions regarding the issues surrounding parking and other access-related problems that have come up as the Sounder station’s use has increased.
Last year, Sound Transit said it would begin planning long-term access improvements at the Sumner and Puyallup stations. Parking garages were included in the initial plans, but some officials were reluctant to build a multi-story garage. They feared, and still fear, the garage would cause additional traffic congestion.
Roughly 1,600 commuters catch the train at the two East Pierce County transit stations on an average weekday, and Sound Transit has forecast that demand will double in the next 20 years.
Also last year, the agency finished a nearly two-year study of eight stations to determine which improvements are needed in the next two decades. Puyallup and Sumner were included in the study, which was funded by the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure approved by voters in 2008.
Sound Transit 2 has made funds available for various access improvements. Michael Williams, Sound Transit’s development director, said at last week’s meeting there is about $55 million earmarked for improvements to the Puyallup station. Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said Wednesday that the Sumner station has about $40 million pegged for improvements.
The meeting uncovered a group with divided expectations, with some council members supporting “looking to the future” and others fearing trading in tradition for mixed-use buildings and urban living.
Councilman John Palmer said a more holistic approach could mean a city with fewer cars on the road and more diverse housing options. Deputy Mayor John Knutsen said “forcing housing” and development in the city could create more problems for residents paying for a transit system they aren’t using.
Pat McCarthy, Pierce County Executive and chair of the Sound Transit board, said the train is here to stay so instead of focusing on the past officials should work together to “do it right.”
“Let’s look at all the options out there,” McCarthy said. “You have a big chunk of change, let’s do something with it.”
The next joint meeting is Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the fifth floor of City Hall in downtown Puyallup.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682