MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — After years of work, folks have one last chance to comment on plans for light rail expansion in Mountlake Terrace during a public hearing Thursday.
The city’s hearing examiner will be reviewing several permit applications and a site plan for the portion of the Lynnwood Link Extension that will run through the city.
The route, approved by voters in 2008 as part of the ST2 package, is set to open in 2024. The 8.5-mile extension, with four stations, is estimated to move riders from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle in 28 minutes. Sound Transit estimates between 47,000 and 55,000 riders will use the corridor each day by 2026.
In Mountlake Terrace, 2.2 miles of light rail track will hug I-5, stopping at the existing transit center. Straddling 236th SW, the light rail station will be built between the transit center’s parking garage and surface lot. Heading north, the light rail track follows the east side of I-5, crossing to the other side of the freeway after leaving the station.
The most visual change commuters have likely started to notice is the removal of trees along the entire route. About 5,300 will be taken out, replaced by about 20,000 by the end of the project, according to the transit agency.
To make room for light rail, 18 buildings in the city limits of Mountlake Terrace will be demolished, according to city documents.
Public comments for plans in Mountlake Terrace have so far have centered around parking, calling the amount insufficient.
All 890 spots at the transit center are often taken by 7:30 a.m., according to city manager Scott Hugill.
Many letters to the city called for more parking to meet the demand as more commuters start using the transit center when light rail begins operating. No new spaces will be built by Sound Transit as part of the project.
The transit agency is required to complete a parking study within a year of light rail opening, according to Christy Osborn, the city’s director of community and economic development. The station area along with adjacent neighborhoods will be surveyed.
If transit parking is spilling over outside the station, she said restricted or zone parking could be put in place.
The city also has no plans to add additional parking for light rail, Osborn said.
Sound Transit is leasing the former Roger’s Market Place property to provide temporary parking spaces when the transit center surface lot closes for construction. This is expected to open in the fall. A different provisional lot will replace the market site in later phases.
The city is recommending the hearing examiner approve the conditional use and reasonable use exception permits, and the site development plan, with a few conditions, according to Hugill.
“All in all, we have a good package put together for the hearing examiner,” he said.
Many of the conditions the city recommends be approved focus on lessening the impacts of construction, in terms of noise, light and dust.
The build-out is anticipated to take about five years.
The public hearing is set for 7:00 p.m. Thursday at interim city hall council chambers at 6100 219th Street SW. Permit application material can be found at www.cityofmlt.com/597/Sound-Transit-Light-Rail-Service.