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Sound Transit plans for future Lynnwood light rail station


The following article is the second in an eight-part series produced by The Beacon on transportation in Snohomish County. The series focuses on the issues surrounding travel by plane, ferry, bus, rail and cars, as well as the local and state efforts to fix them. –Ed.

As part of our 8-week transportation series, the Beacon is asking readers to complete a survey about local transportation issues. Survey results will be published in the paper in the final week of the series. To participate in the survey, click here.

The quickest route to the morning’s first latte could be considered planning for the future by some commuters, but Sound Transit is looking a little further down the road – or rail – to 2040.

In April, Sound Transit’s board of directors approved an 8.5 mile extension of light rail track that will connect Northgate to Lynnwood, with stops in Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood Transit Center.

In 28 minutes, riders will be shuttled to and from the Lynnwood station to downtown Seattle, with peak-hour trains running every 10 minutes. An estimated 20,000 riders per day will board trains at the Lynnwood station at the corner of 44th Avenue West and 200th Street Southwest.

“Density, central location and access is key to building ridership,” Edmonds Mayor and Sound Transit Board member Dave Earling said. All were factors that contributed to the selection of the Lynnwood Transit Center.

Earling said both the Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace stops meet those requirements. He said he also encouraged the board to approve a future provisional stop at 220th Street Southwest to improve access to the Premera and Swedish campuses.

The expansion is part of Sound Transit’s long-range plan which creates a “vision for how our transit system should grow over many decades after voter-approved projects are complete by 2023.”

Sound Transit was recently awarded the Puget Sound Regional Council’s 2015 VISION 2040 Award, which recognizes “innovative” projects and programs for sustainable future growth.

The plan also will help ease potential traffic congestion caused by a future population boom – a projected 30 percent increase by 2040 in the Puget Sound region, according to Sound Transit.

Washington State Department of Transportation has listed King and Snohomish counties among the four fastest growing counties in the state, and it estimates that the population of Snohomish County will increase by about 15 percent from 2000 to 2030, from about 600,000 to 960,000 people.

With this in mind, Sound Transit introduced the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in 2008, which allows for the addition of 36 miles of light rail track to complete a 55-mile system. Voters approved the measure, and construction of the Lynnwood extension is scheduled to begin in 2018, with completion and service beginning in 2023.

“Every day, thousands of commuters from Snohomish County sit on I-5 while getting to and from their jobs in King County,” said Sound Transit Vice Chair and Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts. “Lynnwood Link will give those commuters a fast, reliable trip every day, no matter how bad traffic is on I-5.”

As of 2008, the cost of the project is estimated to be between $1.2 billion and $1.38 billion, and would include the addition of 500 parking spaces at NE 145th Street, NE 185th Street, 236th Street Southwest and the Lynnwood station. A pedestrian bridge also will be constructed across 44th Avenue West from the Lynnwood Transit Center.

The project has five phases: alternatives development, environmental review and preliminary design, final design, construction, and testing and pre-operations.

Sound Transit completed the environmental review and design phase in April, and will be conducting neighborhood and residential field work over the next six months. This phase includes utility potholing to assist in locating existing underground utilities, geotechnical drilling, and land and tree surveys.

Sound Transit provides transportation by bus, train and light rail, and according to its website, its estimated daily ridership will increase to about 350,000 by 2030 after the completion of about 36 miles of expanded light rail. Current one-way light rail fares for adults range from $2.50 to $3. Projected fare amounts have not been released by Sound Transit.

"Sound Transit is a crucial piece of our city center plan and multi-modal plan,” Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith said, “and it ties directly to our city's vision of being a regional model for a sustainable, vibrant community that invests in efficient, integrated, local and regional transportation.”

Earling said the light rail expansions contribute to Sound Transit’s goal of completing “the spine” – light rail from Everett to Tacoma and Seattle to Redmond.

“We must continue to think as a region,” he said, “with an emphasis on completing what we refer to as ‘the spine.’ That is a consistent policy the board has followed since Sound Transit’s inception … finish the spine.”

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