Here’s the plan for light rail to Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace

LYNNWOOD — A clearer picture is emerging for what commuters can expect in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace within seven years, when light rail is supposed to reach the area.

At the Lynnwood Transit Center, Link light-rail trains would stop at an elevated platform 48 feet off the ground. Parking would increase by 500 spaces.

At the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center, a light-rail platform would stand east of the existing parking garage and would straddle 236th Street SW.

Those stops, along with two others in Shoreline, are set to open in late 2023.

“Design is on schedule,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said during an open house in Lynnwood earlier this month. “We’ve had no show-stoppers that have upset that schedule.”

Sound Transit planners have completed 30 percent of the design work on the future 8.5-mile light-rail line from Northgate to south Snohomish County. They expect to unveil more details next spring, when design work should be 60 percent complete. Sound Transit also is accepting suggestions for naming the future stations.

Construction is expected to begin in 2018 and last four years or longer.

Once the route is active, trains should leave Lynnwood every four minutes during peak weekday commutes. The electric-powered trains would include four cars with a combined capacity of 592 passengers and measure about 380 feet long.

It would take less than a half hour, on average, to reach downtown Seattle and take about an hour to get to Sea-Tac Airport.

The future rail station is designed to tie into Lynnwood’s City Center project, which aims to reshape the suburban city’s downtown into a high-density, walkable neighborhood with easy transit access.

City Center plans were drawn up long before 2008, when voters passed the Sound Transit 2 package that made the Lynnwood light-rail extension possible.

“Basically, the plan was already in place and had been for years,” said Paul Krauss, the city’s community development director.

Sound Transit’s plans call for demolishing three existing businesses in Lynnwood as early as next year: a furniture warehouse, a steakhouse and a gas station. In their place, a five-story parking garage would go up. That will bring the number of parking spaces at the transit center to 1,900, up from 1,400 now.

The loop where buses load and unload would stay more or less the same. So would the HOV entrances and exits to the freeway.

The Interurban Trail also should remain intact, and even stands to get some upgrades, Krauss said. Some deteriorated stretches would be rebuilt and a new spur would reach the parking garage. The pedestrian and bike bridge over 44th Avenue West would stay put.

“In fact, it should leave the Interurban better than it found it,” Krauss said.

People should be able to catch trains from a raised platform. At the north end, an escalator is planned to take people down to a plaza on the corner of 44th and 200th Street SW.

Sound Transit intends to widen 200th Street west to 48th Avenue. The city hopes to eventually widen the arterial all the way to Highway 99. At 44th Avenue, designs call for extra turn lanes and a new pedestrian island in the middle of the street.

“We’re kind of hopeful that there are going to be real tangible signs of this coming in the not-so-distant future,” Krauss said.

Mountlake Terrace’s transit center won’t gain any more parking spaces under the current designs. The rail line is planned to follow the east side of I-5 up from Northgate, with stops at NE 145th and NE 185th streets. The Northgate station is set to open in 2021.

After the Mountlake Terrace stop, the rail line would cross over to the west side of the freeway, then duck under the overpass at 228th Street SW.

A future light-rail station could go in at 220th Street in Mountlake Terrace, though for now there are no definite plans to make it happen.

Soon after light-rail trains reach Lynnwood, Community Transit expects to discontinue its southbound commuter buses from that city.

“It is our intention to discontinue running bus service into downtown Seattle and (the University of Washington) because light rail will be a more efficient way of getting there,” said Martin Munguia, a CT spokesman. “Our intent is to provide more local bus service connecting to light rail, especially at peak hours.”

More details could emerge in the agency’s 20-year plan, due out next spring, Munguia said. CT expects to continue its downtown Seattle and U-District buses for up to a few months after light rail reaches Lynnwood to make sure the new system is working.

Sound Transit commuter service from Everett is expected to continue.

Lynnwood would remain the end of the light-rail line in the near term, but potentially not forever. Voters on Nov. 8 approved the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, which will trigger increases to property taxes, sales tax and car-tab fees starting next year. The new revenue is being collected to help pay for expanded rail and bus lines throughout the central Puget Sound area.

The light-rail line to Everett included in ST3 would include six new stops: at Alderwood mall, the Ash Way park-and-ride, 128th Street near I-5, Paine Field, Highway 526 at Highway 99 and Everett Station. Service to all of those stops is projected to begin in 2036.

The Lynnwood Transit Center also would be served by a new bus rapid-transit line along the I-405 corridor and on to Burien. It’s targeted for completion in 2024.

Light rail, under the ST3 plan, also would reach Tacoma, downtown Redmond, Ballard, West Seattle, Kirkland and Issaquah.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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