City, Sound Transit work out parking garage’s details

The City of Auburn and the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority are at work nailing down the final details of an agreement that will see Sound Transit acquire the property it needs to build its long anticipated — and long delayed — second parking garage here.

At the regular meeting on Jan. 2, the Auburn City Council emerged from a closed- door executive session to unanimously adopt a resolution that allows Mayor Nancy Backus to enter into an agreement with the agency related to its “acquisition of the city-owned interest in 113 parking stalls at the Northwest Corner of 1 and A Streets Northwest,” where Sound Transit will build the garage.

Details are scarce, and there is no indication yet how much money is involved because for legal reasons, the city is closely guarding any financial information related to the matter. Further details will be released when the agreement is finalized.

Old-timers will remember the site, one block northeast of Auburn City Hall, as the long time home of Mel’s Lumber. But for years since, it has provided parking for city employees who work at the city’s office-condominium units at 1 East Main Street.

“Sound Transit is acquiring the property to build a second parking garage to meet demand for parking by station users,” said Councilmember Kate Baldwin.

According to Sound Transit’s website, the garage was promised to voters in the 2008 ST2 ballot measure to address growing ridership on the Sounder and regional bus service. While transit ridership dipped during the COVID pandemic, the agency expects it to rebound over the coming years.

Sound Transit studied four potential sites for the garage during an “Alternatives Analysis” in 2017, and other sites were found to be infeasible due to considerations such as cost and site configuration.

The garage will offer as many 550 stalls for transit riders by its anticipated opening date in late fall 2026 or early in 2027, according to Sound Transit. The actual number of stalls will depend on the proposals from contractors in the procurement process, which the agency said “will incentivize maximizing the number of stalls at a given budget.”

While people have expressed concern that those 550 stalls will not be enough, Sound Transit has repeatedly stressed the need to balance the demand for new parking at Auburn Station with the cost and its ability to mitigate traffic and environmental impacts of a new garage.

“We know we can never build enough parking for everyone who wants a space. That’s one reason we also work with our partners on other ways to access the station, including walking, biking, rolling and taking the bus,” Sound Transit said on its website.