WA: Sound Transit Open House Draws Diverse Opinions

May 21--Louise Hill, a business owner in downtown Puyallup, remembers vividly the two years she drove her granddaughter five days a week to the Puyallup Sound Transit station and how it was a "mad dash" for commuters to catch the train.

It was this personal experience that convinced Hill a new parking garage at the station is the best option to enhance access to the commuter rail.

"I think the construction of a parking garage at the existing site makes sense," Hill said. "A parking garage would be handy."

Hill was one of dozens of people who attended an open house last Wednesday at the Liberty Theater. Sound Transit staff presented details on the six access improvement packages and sought public input at the event.

Staff gathered comment cards from attendees and had tablets available for people to submit comments online. Nytasha Sowers, the access improvement project manager, said the online questionnaire will be available through Friday at soundtransit.org/puyallupimprovements.

"We will be sharing what we hear from folks (with the Sound Transit board)," Sowers said. "We will take these packages and ask how we should move forward. The board may select a package or tweak a package. We would like our board to make an informed decision that includes consideration from what we heard from community members."

Sowers said it would be helpful for people to provide comments online, especially if they were unable to make the Wednesday open house.

"We want as many different perspectives as possible," Sowers added.

Marshall Kalerak, who lives two blocks from Puyallup High School, said he knows all too well the toll station traffic takes on the neighborhood.

"Most of the people using the Sounder are coming from points south," Kalerak said. "Why have a garage at the station when most people leave right away?"

Kalerak said he fears a parking garage on the station site would attract homeless individuals. He is concerned about how Sound Transit would provide security for a new garage.

The option Kalerak prefers is Package A, which includes construction of a 400-space surface parking lot on Shaw Road.

"A parking lot at Shaw Road would divert traffic out of the Puyallup area," he said.

According to Sound Transit staff, however, a parking lot at Shaw Road would require additional shuttle service. A shuttle provider has not been identified, and no funds are available for the service.

Other packages include options for a parking garage at the Cornforth/Campbell lot and the Eagles lot. Considerations for traffic impacts will be reviewed, Sowers explained.

Access improvements to the station will be funded by $55 million in 2014 dollars, an amount voters approved via the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in 2008.

At the Puyallup station, there is a demand for up to 600 parking spaces. Following selection of a package this summer, staff will move forward in late summer/early fall on an environmental review.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_andrew

Copyright 2014 - Puyallup Herald (Puyallup, Wash.)

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