It’s still up in the air when light rail will reach Everett.
When it will reach Snohomish County is another matter.
Sound Transit has proposed to bring light rail to Everett by 2036, but a new tax measure called Sound Transit 3 still needs to be adopted by voters this fall. A Sound Transit board meeting planned on Thursday will finalize details on that measure.
Meanwhile, the transit agency is busy doing behind-the-scenes work to bring light rail to Lynnwood including looking to acquire several businesses and homes in south county.
Construction is expected to start in 2018 — in just two years. The project is expected to open by 2023, allowing people to get on the train in Lynnwood and get to downtown Seattle in 28 minutes. The extension is expected to carry up to 74,000 riders each weekday by 2035.
One of the biggest steps to make that happen occurred in February when President Barack Obama’s budget allocated $125 million of a potential $1.1 billion sought for the Northgate to Lynnwood extension.
Sound Transit always had counted on federal dollars to make the numbers work on the project, said Bruce Gray, a Sound Transit spokesman.
The Federal Transit Administration also gave the Lynnwood project its second-highest possible rating under its competitive grant process.
In March, the transit agency awarded a $73.7 million contract for the final design of the 8.5-mile light rail extension from Northgate to Lynnwood. Bellevue firm, HNTB Jacobs Trusted Design Partners, won the job.
And Sound Transit is starting the process of selecting the general contractor-construction manager to build the 3.7 miles of track from Shoreline to Lynnwood. A contractor should be in place by this fall.
The real estate division for Sound Transit is beginning to talk with 10 businesses and homeowners in the county to purchase the property needed for this extension. The businesses are all in Lynnwood near the existing Lynnwood Transit Center Park-and-Ride.
Those businesses include: the Chevron Station at 20000 44th Ave. W — which was remodeled just a few years ago; McDonald’s Fine Furniture at 20111 46th Ave. W; the Black Angus Steakhouse at 20102 44th Ave. W.; and a strip mall at 20007 44th Ave. W.
Sound Transit is also seeking to acquire five homes in the 22200 block of 62nd Ave. W and a piece of land — part of the old Melody Hill Elementary School — owned by the Edmonds School District at 6205 222nd St. SW in Mountlake Terrace.
The transit agency expects the heavy construction will be complete by 2021. That will be followed by months of work on the light rail’s communication system and safety improvements. And then the agency will conduct months of testing before the scheduled opening in 2023.
Cost estimates for the entire 8.5-mile-long extension from Northgate to Lynnwood range from $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion, including adding 1,500 park-and-ride spaces along the route.
The project will also pay for 34 new light rail vehicles and fund a portion of a new light rail maintenance facility, bringing the total project cost to approximately $2.3 billion.
Two stations are planned in Snohomish County with this extension, one at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center at 236th Street Southwest and a second at the Lynnwood Transit Center. A parking garage with 500 stalls will be added at the Lynnwood Park-and-Ride, bringing the total number of spaces there to 1,650.
The Snohomish County portion of the project calls for track to be elevated for 2.3 miles and on the ground for 1.4 miles. The light rail tracks will cross over I-5 near Mountlake Terrace Transit Center. This is all happening as the Sound Transit board debates about Sound Transit 3, also known as ST3. That measure calls for bringing light rail to Everett, but when and how is still undecided. The Sound Transit board is expected to agree on a plan by June 23. But that will involve a new tax measure to go before voters this fall.
No matter what happens with Sound Transit 3, the light rail to south Snohomish County is in the works.
While transit projects can fall behind schedule, Sound Transit did open the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations this spring six months early and under budget.