A map of alternative routes and stations for the Sound Transit light rail extension from Lynnwood to Everett. (Sound Transit)

A map of alternative routes and stations for the Sound Transit light rail extension from Lynnwood to Everett. (Sound Transit)

City of Everett outlines light rail priorities for 2037

Per a letter to Sound Transit, the mayor and planning director say they want four stations open as soon as possible.

EVERETT — City leaders have officially shared their hopes for light rail, starting with opening all four Everett locations by 2037.

Mayor Cassie Franklin and planning director Yorik Stevens-Wajda lay out the city’s goals and priorities in a letter approved Wednesday the Everett City Council.

Everett’s early scoping input includes:

• Opening the four light rail stations in Everett by 2037.

• If some stations can’t be built by then, evaluating the originally unfunded Airport Road and Evergreen Way stations and possibly deferring the latter “for as short a period as possible.”

• Asking for stronger language that supports the station at the Southwest Everett Manufacturing and Industrial Center — a long name for the Boeing and Paine Field area — as “a formal purpose of the project.”

• Designing station areas for maximum development potential.

• Making it easy for riders to transfer to other transportation modes, especially Community Transit’s Swift Blue bus rapid transit.

• Frequent service.

• Non-motorized connections to stations.

• General support for the line and station alternatives under consideration.

“It’s exciting that we’re at this process and asking these questions,” said Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts, who also is the vice chairman of the Sound Transit board. “This is exactly what we should be doing.”

Roberts will not be in office next year. Franklin will represent Everett on the Sound Transit board instead.

Some Everett City Council members have bristled at the timeline that has pushed back light rail to the city despite years of paying into the system.

In 2016, when voters approved the ST3 tax bump to expand transit across its service area in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, the initial opening date to Everett was 2031.

Costs for labor, materials and properties have pushed the delivery date back. More time lets the agency accrue enough funds for it all. Ridership losses, and thus fare losses, during the pandemic hit revenue, too.

Now Sound Transit’s board has a plan to build the 16-mile light rail expansion from the Alderwood mall to the Paine Field area by 2037.

Based on revenue projections, stations may not open until 2041 at Evergreen Way and Highway 526 or near the city’s current transit hub at Everett Station. An estimated $600 million funding gap accounts for the seven-year difference.

Councilmember Scott Murphy said he preferred the city fully backing the Evergreen Way station instead of Airport Road, which would at least be partly in unincorporated Snohomish County.

“We should make very clear, I believe, that the Evergreen Way (and Highway) 526 station is a high priority,” he said.

Councilmember Scott Bader said the city should consider annexation of southwest Everett, including the Airport Road and Mariner stations.

Construction of new parking at Everett and Mariner stations was delayed to 2046.

Everett, Lynnwood, Snohomish County and Sound Transit officials convened Nov. 29 in the first elected leadership group meeting. That group will make an official recommendation of preferred alternatives to the Sound Transit board.

There’s a lot of time before the Sound Transit board selects alignment paths and station sites.

Sound Transit staff expect to evaluate alternatives this spring and narrow the options by fall. Then the Sound Transit board identifies the preferred alternatives, and other alternatives, for environmental review.

Everett, unlike the Lynnwood City Council and the Snohomish County Council, has not approved an ordinance about its preferred alternative locations. City leaders did, however, state a preference for the Everett station at Broadway and Pacific Avenue, one of the agency’s existing options, Stevens-Wajda said.

That would put people up part of the hill of Pacific Avenue, but farther from the existing hub at Everett Station where buses and trains already serve. The city would like Sound Transit to build a multi-level station to give riders options of where they enter or exit.

Instead, the letter says in part, “The city supports the work done to date to develop alternatives to advance into Level 1 evaluation and refinement and looks forward to continued engagement with Sound Transit as the evaluation process continues and we work together towards the best preferred alternative possible.”

In 2016, Lynnwood leadership wanted the West Alderwood station “in the vicinity of 33rd Avenue West and 188th Street Southwest.” That option was part of Sound Transit’s initial alternatives proposal, along with four other sites.

In February 2020, the Snohomish County Council said it wanted stations east of I-5 at 164th Street SW and west of I-5 near 130th Street SW.

The Everett planning director, Stevens-Wajda, said he expects staff will recommend preferred alignment and station alternatives once the options are narrowed.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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