The Everett Link elected leadership group on Wednesday agreed to remove from further study alignment alternatives along Interstate 5 and Highway 99. (Sound Transit)

The Everett Link elected leadership group on Wednesday agreed to remove from further study alignment alternatives along Interstate 5 and Highway 99. (Sound Transit)

Snohomish County leaders reject light rail routes bypassing Paine Field

Those options weren’t what voters approved — and would be like “butchering” the plan, the Snohomish County executive said.

EVERETT — Some Snohomish County leaders rejected calls to study Highway 99 and I-5 light rail options that would skip the Boeing and Paine Field area in a Sound Transit group meeting Wednesday.

At the July meeting, elected officials from Everett, Lynnwood and Snohomish County said they were surprised to learn Sound Transit staff added alternative alignments skirting the airport.

Prior public comment and the Everett Link community advisory group had asked for those options to be studied. They cited concerns about displacement and gentrification through southwest Everett, development and ridership potential, as well as getting light rail built earlier than the projected start in 2037 or 2041.

“It makes sense to consider the alternatives now,” Everett resident and community advisory group member Gauhar Serikbayeva told The Daily Herald. “It’s a major infrastructure project. We need to have those informed alternatives to choose from.”

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, who are also Sound Transit board and elected leadership group members, said their primary reason to not study the so-called Highway 99 and I-5 alignments is because they weren’t what voters approved.

Erik Ashlie-Vinke, government and community relations manager at Sound Transit, said the agency took an early look at three alignment options before putting the tax package called ST3 to voters in 2016. Extending the line west from I-5, across Highway 99 and toward Paine Field and Boeing, was a priority, Somers said.

The Sound Transit board, at the time, chose an alignment that extends north from the Lynnwood Transit Center to Alderwood mall, 164th Street SW, Ash Way and 128th Street SW, then west along Airport Road to the Southwest Everett Industrial Center that includes Boeing and Paine Field. From there, it would go east toward Highway 99, back along I-5 and toward downtown Everett.

“The voters were sold on the idea of this going out to the industrial center,” Frizzell said.


Sound Transit staff analysis of the Highway 99 and I-5 alignments showed lower current populations, projected populations and jobs for both, compared to the alignment that runs west toward Paine Field, north corridor development director Eric Widstrand said Wednesday. They both also had limited site options for the operations and maintenance facility that needs to be on the Snohomish County section of the light rail line.

On Wednesday, a majority of the Everett Link elected leadership group agreed to remove Highway 99 and I-5 as options.

“Every other elected leadership group meeting I’ve been part of has spent its time trying to figure out how to enhance its system,” Somers said. “We’re talking about butchering ours.”

Franklin has supported a Southwest Everett Industrial Center station that can serve both people who live and work in that area. She also has promoted a rail alignment adjacent to Highway 526 instead of Casino Road to minimize displacement.

Snohomish County Council member Megan Dunn, who recently replaced Stephanie Wright on the elected group after she resigned her council position, wanted to keep the Highway 99 and I-5 options for further study. Concerns about gentrification from people who live in the area persuaded her, Dunn said.

But removing the Southwest Everett Industrial Center station and line wouldn’t entirely prevent the forces that can squeeze out residents, Franklin said.

“We are already struggling with gentrification,” Franklin said.

The city’s land use decisions can leverage Sound Transit’s investment for more dense housing construction in that area.

“Our goal is to invest in the community, not to displace the community,” Franklin said.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Construction continues at the site of the Lake Stevens Costco now slated to open Dec. 2. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
Lake Stevens’ new Costco opening delayed till after Thanksgiving

The new warehouse opening was pushed back to Dec. 2. Meanwhile, it’s still under construction.

x
Pedestrian hit, hospitalized after crash on Highway 99 in Edmonds

The person was crossing the highway near 238th Street SW. The driver stayed and cooperated with officers, per Edmonds PD.

Cars drive along 76th Avenue West in front of Edmonds-Woodway High School on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds eyes speed cameras near three schools

Roads near Edmonds-Woodway High, Chase Lake Elementary and Westgate Elementary could get automated enforcement.

Shoppers walk in and out of Macy’s at Alderwood Mall were Black Friday deals are being advertised on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Go ahead, hit snooze: Most Black Friday deals are online

Braving the stores on Black Friday is still a thing, but more retailers are closed on Thanksgiving.

The Smith Ave homelessness camp Thursday afternoon in Everett on March 11, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Audit: Snohomish County lacks data-driven approach to homeless services

The Washington State Auditor’s Office this month published a 73-page report looking into four local governments across the state.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
New director named for county’s Department of Emergency Managment

After six years, Jason Biermann has stepped aside but will stay in Snohomish County. Lucia Schmit will move in from Seattle.

(Dutton)
Pulitzer winner’s new book digs into Snohomish County cold case killings

The Everett library will host a talk with Edward Humes on “The Forever Witness,” about a double murder and pioneering DNA evidence.

Lawmakers meet on the Senate floor, Thursday, March 10, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington lawmakers were wrapping up their work Thursday with final votes on a supplemental state budget and a transportation revenue package before planning to adjourn the legislative session. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Crime, climate, abortion on docket in legislative session warm-up

Washington lawmakers will hold 39 hearings this week. Nearly all will be conducted in person, which hasn’t happened in three years.

Detonators seized from Jeffrey Carlton's vehicle in Everett in May. (U.S. Attorney's Office)
Man caught with illegal explosives in Everett sentenced to time served

Jeffrey Carlton has had a lifelong interest in explosives. He pleaded guilty to unlawfully owning them.

Most Read