Sound Transit committee recommends saving Dick's Drive-In Kent location

KENT, Wash. — Sound Transit met Thursday to where its new maintenance facility will go.

The newly built Dick's Drive-In in Kent is one of the possible locations, but multiple public hearings underlined that the public wants to keep the iconic burger chain -- which just opened the new location in December -- to stay where it is.

Sound Transit says it needs a new 30-acre operations and maintenance facility to expand light rail further south, but with public outcry, the Dick’s location might be saved after all.

Thursday evening, the System Expansion Committee voted unanimously to recommend that Dick's and one of the landfill sites, which would also impact businesses, come off the potential development list. The final vote to confirm the recommendation will be on May 23rd, and a final location won’t be picked until 2021.

The committee’s vote has Kent Mayor, Dana Ralph, calling it a “huge win for the city.” Kent has been working to develop the area with Dick’s, Lowes, and other businesses for decades.

The maintenance facility has to go somewhere. Sound Transit says to expand to Federal Way and open light rail there by 2024, they need to build the maintenance facility to keep the system running.

There are still officially six potential locations on the list: the Dick's Drive-In/Lowes site,  two sites at nearby Midway landfill, a  neighborhood in incorporated King County, and two Federal Way locations - megachurch, The Christian Faith Center, and a business park. 

And the Federal Way locations are still on the chopping block.

“There are over 100 unique operations happening in that industrial zone in Federal Way. It’s much bigger impact to the community than I think you originally heard,” said Brian Nash, who owns property that’s part of a complex called Garage Town in Federal Way.

“Choosing this site would be the largest relocation of businesses homes,” said Peter Barbin to the Sound Transit committee, who also has property at Garage Town.

Speakers again pushed Sound Transit to pick the Midway Landfill site instead.

“The city's preferred site for the operations and maintenance facility is at the midway landfill,” said Tony Doucette, with Federal Way public works, speaking to the committee on behalf of Mayor Jim Ferrell’s office.

Sound Transit calls the remaining landfill site option a “superfund” site, and says preliminary estimates suggest it would cost an additional $500 million dollars to build the facility on top of the landfill.

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