Lynnwood transit hub is ready to roll

LYNNWOOD — Hailing the new regional transportation hub in Snohomish County, Sound Transit and other agencies today will formally introduce a new transit center in Lynnwood.

After five years of planning and just more than a year of construction, the new $34 million transit center is on the site of the existing park-and-ride lot on 44th Avenue W., near I-5.

The center opened Sept. 28, but a public ceremony dedicating it is at 10 a.m. today. Sound Transit chairman and King County Executive Ron Sims, and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., are expected to speak.

The expanded center features 20 bus bays, larger and more-sheltered passenger waiting areas, increased lighting and 300 more parking spaces for commuters. Sound Transit officials are looking for an espresso stand operator for the site, and Community Transit is moving its RideStore, where people can buy bus passes.

The north parking lot of the center, which holds about 275 vehicles, could eventually be developed into a parking garage with retail shops on the ground level, Edwards said.

In another year, work on a carpool lane off I-5 that will bring drivers directly into the center will be complete, officials say.

"We have 42 projects ongoing in Regional Express, and this is what we consider one of the big four," said Jim Edwards, chief engineer for Regional Express, Sound Transit’s bus system. "This is the first of the four to come online."

The new center and the direct carpool lane offramp are expected to cut the drive through Lynnwood by about 15 minutes for drivers passing through at rush hour because buses will avoid congested intersections in Lynnwood and carpools on I-5 won’t have to cut across the freeway to access the park-and-ride.

Lynnwood, already the county’s transportation hub, is a prime location for the center because it is just south of the intersection of I-5 and I-405.

"Most of (Community Transit’s) service goes through there," said Lee Somerstein, a Sound Transit spokesman. "And it’s a key point for our express buses through there. With all traffic through there, it just makes sense."

Nearly a half-million dollars was added to the project after some poor soils were found where an undiscovered streambed existed. Crews had to over-excavate the area and refill it with soil dense enough to support a concrete foundation.

Lynnwood officials are excited about the center. Roughly half of Lynnwood’s 33,000 population works outside the city.

"It provides transportation for a lot of the people who live in Lynnwood and work outside of Lynnwood," planning director Jim Cutts said.

Cutts also noted the new center will serve as a third anchor for the new City Center, which is still in the works.

"The transit facility, the new convention center and Alderwood Mall — between those three things, there’s almost $200 million worth of investment into our community," Cutts said.

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