Rail routes in Lynnwood pared to two

LYNNWOOD — Not one but two routes have emerged as leading candidates for running elevated light rail from I-5 to the park-and-ride here.

A subgroup of the Sound Transit board of directors on Thursday voted 7-0 to recommend the two routes for further study. The full, 18-member board is expected to vote next week.

One route would hug I-5 until reaching the southern end of the park-and-ride. The other would veer slightly away from the freeway and enter the park-and-ride roughly halfway between the north and south ends. The park-and-ride lot is at 20100 48th Ave. W.

Sound Transit plans to build light rail to Lynnwood by 2023.

If the full board agrees with the committee vote, two more-controversial routes would remain in contention but move to the back burner.

One of the less regarded options would go through Scriber Creek Park and take out a condominium complex and two small office centers along 200th Street SW.

Another route would displace a handful of other businesses.

Those routes were roundly criticized by neighbors, business owners and the city of Lynnwood. About 1,800 people signed a petition in opposition.

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, a Sound Transit board member who serves on the capital committee, which voted Thursday, said the opposition influenced the panel’s vote.

“I think it’s in large part in response to the community in Lynnwood and the concerns they had,” he said.

One of the recommended options — the route closest to I-5 — was fought by Lynnwood city officials, in part because it could affect a city sewage pump station. It could interfere with maintenance and prevent upgrades in the future, said Jared Bond, the city’s environmental and surface water supervisor.

That route also would require the train platform to be built at the south end of the park-and-ride lot, opposite the bus bays — a longer walk from the city’s business district than the other options.

Those three were proposed by Sound Transit.

City of Lynnwood officials invented the fourth choice, which would move the rail line north but not so far as to interfere with the park, homes or businesses. The City Council passed a resolution in September supporting it.

The routes selected by the full Sound Transit board will be subject to full environmental studies. The studies could be finished as soon as 2015, officials have said.

Plans call for light rail to start running from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington by 2016, to Northgate by 2021 and along I-5 to Lynnwood by 2023.

The panel’s vote on Thursday also included a decision to study stations at N. 130th and 145th streets in Seattle; N. 185th Street in Shoreline; and at the park-and-ride and 220th Street SW in Mountlake Terrace — in addition to the Northgate and Lynnwood stations.

In the panel’s preferred choice, the trains would stop at the Mountlake Terrace park-and-ride lot, then move to the west side of the freeway before stopping at 220th, then to Lynnwood.

A secondary option would be to have the trains stop in the station in the I-5 median in Mountlake Terrace, then stay in the median until reaching Lynnwood, with no stop at 220th.

The total cost of the 8.5-mile line is estimated at $1.2 billion to $1.7 billion.

Voters in 2008 authorized the work under a $17 billion sales tax measure. Bus service was added throughout the region and plans call for rail to be extended into Bellevue and south King County in addition to Lynnwood.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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