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Sound Transit is soliciting public comments on environmental studies outlining the impacts from a new light-rail operations and maintenance satellite facility, which is needed to service the expanding train fleet as the system expands from 16 to 50 miles by 2023.Estimated to cost $345 million to $415 million, the new facility needs to be close to an operating light-rail line, rectangular in shape and extend up to 25 acres in order to store and maintain additional fleet requirements, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.The current operations and maintenance facility in Seattle has capacity to store and maintain 104 light-rail vehicles, but the existing fleet will triple in size from 62 to 180 vehicles by the time the new voter-approved expansions are running. As Sound Transit buys additional vehicles in advance of opening voter-approved rail lines to the north, east and south, the existing facility is expected to reach full capacity by 2020.Sound Transit narrowed potential locations down to four sites, including one in the Lynnwood area between Interstate 5 and 52nd Avenue West and two commercial properties in Bellevue between downtown Bellevue and Redmond. The Bellevue sites are west of 120th Avenue NE adjacent to existing tracks and the other is at 130th Avenue NE and NE 20th Street adjacent to Highway 520.Sound Transit's board is expected to identify a preferred alternative later this summer. Staff will then begin work on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which will address comments on the Draft EIS (DEIS) and move forward with engineering design work on the preferred alternative. The FEIS will be complete in mid-2015 with a final site to be selected in fall 2015.The DEIS and other details about the project are available online.Public comments will be gathered at hearings to be held June 3 in Lynnwood and June 5 in Belleview. In addition, comments will be accepted until June 23 via mail and email.
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