Sound Transit to pick light rail path to Lynnwood

  • Wed Dec 7th, 2011 9:01pm
  • News

By Bill Sheets Herald Writer

Light rail won’t be extended to Lynnwood at least until 2023, but after today there will be a good indication of which route it will take when it’s built.

Sound Transit staff today plan to reveal their recommendation whether the rail line should be built on I-5 or on Highway 99.

The staff is scheduled to speak to the board of directors’ capital committee at 1:30 p.m. The full board could make the final recommendation as soon as Dec. 15, said Bruce Gray, a spokesman for Sound Transit.

The 18-member board is made up of elected officials from Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon is the board’s chairman.

The choice wasn’t revealed Wednesday, but if it’s not I-5, it will be a surprise.

Of the two routes, I-5 would have quicker travel times, more projected riders and lower construction costs than Highway 99, Sound Transit officials said recently.

The strongest argument for the Highway 99 line would be its potential for economic development along the retail corridor, planners said.

The Highway 99 line would go from Northgate west to 99, up the highway through North Seattle and Shoreline to 205th Street NW at the county line, then back to I-5 and to the Lynnwood park-and-ride lot. The I-5 line would go straight from Northgate to Lynnwood. Both would be partly elevated and partly at ground level. The Highway 99 line would have four stops between the starting and ending point, the I-5 line three.

The cost for the Highway 99 line is estimated at $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion, while the cost for the I-5 line is pegged at $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion — a difference of $200 million to $700 million, according to a Sound Transit report.

Planners also studied other options such as a route all the way up Highway 99 through Edmonds and Lynnwood, then to the park-and-ride; another on Highway 99 that would be elevated the entire way; and bus rapid transit, similar to Community Transit’s Swift bus.

The bus routes were projected to have the fewest riders of all the choices. The other Highway 99 routes were the most costly.

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