Light rail construction underway at Lynnwood City Center Aug. 5. Early planning work for the next line, from Lynnwood to Everett, has Sound Transit seeking people to join a Community Advisory Group. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Light rail construction underway at Lynnwood City Center Aug. 5. Early planning work for the next line, from Lynnwood to Everett, has Sound Transit seeking people to join a Community Advisory Group. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Volunteers needed to help guide future of Everett light rail

The Sound Transit panel will advise on the extension’s alignment, station locations and more.

EVERETT — Sound Transit wants to pay people to give advice on the Everett light rail expansion.

Not a lot. Maybe five or six hundred bucks, when all is said and done. But it’s something.

The 2037 date for light rail to reach Everett is now in question, due to the board’s recent decisions on which elements possibly to delay because of higher costs and lower revenue resulting from the pandemic. If a $600 million projected funding gap isn’t resolved, light rail wouldn’t reach north of Paine Field for another four years, in 2041.

“What’s important here is we’re really getting underway with what I would call the more serious issues with standing up this link,” Sound Transit board member and Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts said.

When voters in the agency’s boundaries approved ST3 in 2016, it included extending light rail from Lynnwood to Everett. General locations for the stations were proposed in that measure, but the specific sites have yet to be determined, in part because the agency wants local input on where they’ll best serve those communities. Sound Transit’s board also will look for feedback on a location for its operations and maintenance facility, where the light rail cars are serviced.

To help guide decisions for the Everett Link extension, Sound Transit is assembling a 20-member Community Advisory Group. Applications opened a week ago. At least 25 people have thrown their hat into the ring, a Sound Transit spokesperson said.

Applicants must live or work in Snohomish County and are asked to have a “deep understanding” of communities along the light rail corridor, as well as knowledge and interest in public transportation, mobility and transportation’s effects on people. They’re expected to be ambassadors to the community and present their concerns, ideas and values.

The appointees will get a stipend of $100 per meeting for five or six meetings, estimated to be two hours each, between November and next year. Offering a stipend was important to attract people who most likely will be using light rail, or will be affected by it in some way.

“I don’t want it to just be the people who can afford the time and energy,” Roberts said.

In addition to advising on the rail line alignment and station locations, the group will weigh in on where Sound Transit should build the north operations and maintenance facility. It’s where Link trains go all day, every day, for cleaning and service. It will be needed to support the light rail extension.

Between 60 and 70 acres are needed for the site. The facility will have administrative and locker room space for about 450 full-time employees; a cleaning, maintenance and parts shop; storage for 150 light rail cars; and stormwater facilities.

For comparison, the similar facility in Seattle stores 104 light rail cars, and the one in Bellevue, a smaller “satellite” site, has room for 96.

The facility also needs roadway access, and employee and visitor parking. It will be within a half mile of the light rail line and away from major residential areas, according to Sound Transit.

People can apply through Oct. 18. The first virtual Community Advisory Group meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18.

Applications can be done online at bit.ly/3nZ1Eog, or printed from a PDF at bit.ly/3zBCK09 and mailed to: Everett Link Extension c/o Alex Ko, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104.

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

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