Upgraded transit access is coming to Auburn

As part of a larger, system-wide approach to improve transit access in South King County, Metro’s Rapid Ride I Line Bus transit project will complete by 2026 an upgrade of Route 160 between Renton, Kent and Auburn.

Not only will upgrades improve passenger facility stations and off-board fare payments, Metro says, but it will also make services more reliable, improve pedestrian access, add features like bus shelters and turn lanes, widen roadways and effect other street improvements.

Because the county proposes to make some of the improvements in Auburn’s right-of-way and others on private property it plans to acquire inside city limits, the Auburn City Council on June 3 authorized Mayor Nancy Backus to execute an interlocal agreement between the city and county.

In addition, the council authorized Backus to put administrative procedures in place that will be necessary to carry out the agreement. A City Public Facility Extension Permit describes the properties to be acquired and dedicated, and in plans approved under the permit, reveals where they will be.

Councilmember Kate Baldwin described why all of this matters so much.

“I’m very excited that the Rapid Ride I line is going to be finding its way down to the city of Auburn. As someone who, at different points in my life, went car-less, I know what it means to ride a bus. So, being able to have this come in and provide, as it says, ‘better system accessibility, speed and reliability,’ it’s a huge thing,” Baldwin said.

To fund the improvements in part, Metro will rely on Federal Transit Administration grants and their terms and federal law. Federal funding will require the county to maintain control over the project property and improvements, and the future services must remain available for appropriate transit purposes for the duration of their useful life.

As part of the project, the county is required to enter into a Developer Public Facility Extension Agreement, and to obtain a right-of-way use permit from the city for the ongoing maintenance of any structures or improvements installed within the right of way.

The resolution takes effect after it is signed in the coming days.