Garbage transfer station sparks tug-of-war with King County

The proposed site is on South 320th Street, just east of Interstate 5. - Courtesy photo
The proposed site is on South 320th Street, just east of Interstate 5.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

As the county's garbage and recycling transfer station at Algona approaches the end of its useful life, the King County Solid Waste Division (KCSWD) has begun looking for sites to build a new, modernized transfer station.

The county and narrowed it down to four sites in the south end. As it stands right now, two potential sites are being explored in Auburn, one in Algona, and one in unincorporated King County on the boundary of Federal Way on 320th Street.

Residents and local elected officials gathered for an open house Sept. 27 to hear what the county has to say about this project — and also to give blunt feedback regarding the sites that are in consideration.

"I want to make sure you know that no decisions have been made about the siting, whatsoever," said Polly Young of KCSWD, reminding everyone that the project is still in its earliest stages. "We're still in the information gathering stage, and that's why we need to hear from you. … This is exactly why we're here. To get your input."

More than 80,000 tons of garbage is collected annually in the King County solid waste system, said Eric Richardt of KCSWD.

Garbage and recyclables are collected at eight transfer stations and two drop boxes, which are dispersed throughout the county. The garbage is transported from those locations to Cedar Hills in Maple Valley, he said.

Richardt said a study was done in recent years highlighted the need for the county's transfer stations to be modernized. Some of that modernization has already taken place in Shoreline and Bow Lake.

In reviewing the Algona transfer station, the county found a number of deficiencies, he said.

"The existing facility at Algona was built over 50 years ago," Richardt said. "It lacks vehicle cueing space, recycling services, the ability to compact waste, and also lacks space for waste storage in the event of a regional disaster."

Richardt said modern transfer stations are typically enclosed, which means that odors, noise and dust are not really noticeable side effects for residents nearby.

He cited the Shoreline facility, which is located in a residential area of that city, saying there have been few complaints since opening in 2008.

The county had criteria in narrowing down the number of potential sites. The county was looking for lots 15-20 acres in size, with proximity to arterials, correct zoning, and a location away from local floodplains.

The four chosen sites, with descriptions, can be found at

Federal Way connection

Two local politicians, Federal Way City Councilwoman Dini Duclos and Auburn Mayor Peter Lewis, made it clear that there is going to be some noise from their respective cities regarding these site choices.

Duclos said Federal Way's largest concern with the 320th Street site is the potential impact on traffic, and how that may affect a new facility South King Fire and Rescue is building nearby.

"It's very close to the city, right off I-5 and 320th, which is a major entryway for access into the city and has major congestion already," Duclos said.

"There's a huge concern about safety. Because the fire department is right across the street, and when that alarm goes off and there's a traffic jam and there are trucks out there, and they're delayed to getting wherever they have to get to, the liability costs will be astronomical against the county."

Lewis said the city of Auburn was uninterested in having a facility located at either of the two proposed sites within that city. Lewis gave notice that he and the city council would draft a resolution in opposition to the proposed sites within Auburn at the next city council meeting.

Duclos said she hopes the residents of Federal Way take notice of this project and make their voices heard.

"The community needs to be aware of what's going on and give their input," she said. "And we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't give our input, and we will be again at our Tuesday (Oct. 2) meeting. We continue to feel that this could be a problem."

Reader comments

Readers made the following comments on The Mirror’s website in response to this report on the proposed garbage station.

• Connie Larson Milton Gregerson: Of course, King County wants Federal Way to smell as bad as they think we are! Who would even possibly consider putting a garbage transfer station less than a half mile from the downtown commercial area! Don’t tell me...the same people who brought you a methadone clinic and sexually violent predator housing!

• Kim Rogers Hintz: How stupid...I hope the businesses on both sides of I-5 fight this. Lets just build it in the middle of town! Traffic is bad let’s add large trucks to the main corridor of!

• Diana Noble-Gulliford: Federal Way has historically been King County’s dumping ground. We became a city to have a voice in our community and to stop the rampant growth, lack of adequate roads, unkept parks, the endless permitting of apartment complexes and to have our own police force. The committee and county can do better than choosing a site in Federal Way. Not building it on a flood plain? All of Auburn, Kent and Algona/Pacific are on flood plains. Have they stopped building in the valley?

• Glenn Sawyer: What was wrong with the old one at Algona? The new one at Bow Lake is nice but with odd diagonal backup configurations so you can’t just scoop out of your pickup tailgate in to the pit.


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