Drivers will see nearly 8,600 trees come down along Interstate 5 between SeaTac and Federal Way to make way for Sound Transit’s light rail extension.
Work started this week to remove trees in Kent and trees are already down in SeaTac and Des Moines, according to a Sound Transit news release. Crews will start around June 25 to remove trees in Federal Way. The light rail route will parallel I-5, just west of the freeway.
Sound Transit is continuing early work to prepare for construction of the 7.8-mile Federal Way Link Extension, which will extend the regional light rail line from Angle Lake station in SeaTac through Kent to the Federal Way Transit Center. The line is expected to open in late 2024.
A portion of the work takes place in the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) right-of-way along I-5, including the clearing of trees and vegetation, the replacement of existing trees as well as relocation of conflicting utilities.
Sound Transit plans to replace the old trees with 16,000 new trees. Working with its contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West, the agency worked to minimize the number of removed trees. Replacing them will begin as early as possible.
The agency will employ several strategies for replanting trees. These include phased planting to allow replacement trees to begin growing earlier; planting trees in other locations that currently have low numbers of trees; planting in wetland and stream mitigation areas; salvaging small trees and planting larger trees where appropriate.
Sound Transit will emphasize the planting of native and adaptive species of trees and other plants. The agency has also agreed to a 13-year maintenance program with WSDOT. Trees removed for the Federal Way Link Extension will become the property of the contractor and can be used for timber, mulch, compost and wood by-products. The contractor has pledged to donate lumber to Habitat for Humanity as well as 1,000 trees annually to local jurisdictions along the light rail alignment over the course of the project.
Construction of the light rail guideway will begin later this summer.
The Federal Way Link Extension will have three stations, at Kent/Des Moines Road near Highline College, at South 272nd Street and at the Federal Way Transit Center when it opens. The trip from Federal Way to Sea-Tac Airport will be 15 minutes with service every six to eight minutes during peak hours.
All project construction work is done under stringent COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
For more information on the Federal Way Link Extension and to sign up for project updates, visit soundtransit.org/fwlink.