Follow Broadway or I-5?
East or west near 164th Street SW?
North of, south of, or through Alderwood mall?
A host of decisions remain for the 16-mile Sound Transit Link light rail expansion from Lynnwood to Everett that is set to begin operating at some of the stations by 2037. Two stations north of Paine Field might not open until 2041 if a $600 million budget shortfall isn’t filled.
Sound Transit, the regional agency developing the line, wants to hear what you think of the options for station locations and track alignment. An online survey is available at bit.ly/3oQn45S through Dec. 10.
“We’re considering whether there are any ways we can refine the project,” Sound Transit East and North Corridor environmental manager Kathy Fendt said in an online presentation Wednesday.
Before the pandemic and when the ballot measure was proposed, staff estimated up to 58,000 light rail riders through the Paine Field area, upwards of 56,000 daily riders for an I-5 route and 54,000 for a line that followed Highway 99.
People shied away from public transit during the pandemic but have started to return in some areas, with ridership growing after Sound Transit opened its Northgate extension in Seattle.
When voters approved the ballot measure, they were basing their decision on a “representative” plan for the rail alignment and station locations. But as design and development progresses, staff are floating alternatives that could be pursued, depending on input.
Those who fill out the Everett extension survey can chime in on any and all six stations to be built. A seventh station at Airport Road and Highway 99 was not funded in the voter-approved tax package for the expansion but is being studied in case money becomes available.
So far, funded stations are named for their approximate locations: West Alderwood, Ash Way, Mariner, Southwest Everett Industrial Center, Highway 526 at Evergreen Way, and Everett Station.
West Alderwood has four options other than the “representative project,” which cut across the southeast corner of the Alderwood mall campus. In that proposal, the station would be east of 33rd Avenue W and south of the mall.
Alternatives include a station on the mall’s campus, closer to the Interurban Trail, along 33rd Avenue West or 36th Avenue West, or north of the mall along 184th Street Southwest. The rail lines are different for each station.
Back in 2016, the Lynnwood City Council declared its preference for a station “in the vicinity of 33rd Avenue West and 188th Street Southwest.” Two of Sound Transit’s alternatives meet that criteria.
Three of the options for Ash Way are west of I-5 and directly link with the Ash Way Park and Ride. One alternative is east of I-5, which is where the Snohomish County Council said it wants the station, near 164th Street Southwest.
No new parking is planned when that station opens.
“Our intent at this point is to assume the park-and-ride would stay and could be used by bus riders as well as light rail riders,” Sound Transit North Corridor development director Sandra Fann said.
Mariner station could be reached via the line east or west of I-5. But the station options are all west of I-5, generally between 132nd Street Southwest and just north of 128th Street Southwest, and east of Eighth Avenue West. Last year the Snohomish County Council said it wanted a station on 130th Street SW, between Eighth and Fourth avenues west.
From there, the line would travel west toward Paine Field and the Southwest Everett Industrial Center. Its route beyond could vary greatly, with options north of Highway 526, along the highway or down West Casino Road.
Station options vary similarly. One alternative is just north of Paine Field, where passenger flights started in 2019. Another is north of Kasch Park Road. Sound Transit’s representative project is between the highway and Casino Road, southwest of the interchange with Seaway Boulevard.
During the presentation last week, someone asked about the alternatives showing the line down Casino Road, which concerned them as it could require the purchase and demolition of some existing low-income housing and property.
Miranda Redinger, Sound Transit Everett Link senior project manager, said the options to get from Airport Road to I-5 are limited.
There are five options for the Evergreen Way and Highway 526 station. One is near where Beverly Lane meets the highway and west of Evergreen. Two are just off the highway, and two are along Casino Road on either side of Evergreen.
The line could stay north of the highway or follow Casino Road to 84th Street Southeast before crossing the highway.
North of that, the line is expected to follow Broadway or I-5 toward downtown Everett. One option has the line bump east from Broadway and toward Smith Avenue to reach Everett Station. Other station options are at Angel of the Winds Arena via Broadway, Broadway and Pacific Avenue via McDougall Avenue, or 32nd Street and McDougall Avenue.
Concerns have been raised about safety when light rail is at-grade with drivers and pedestrians, based on 10 years of light rail in the Rainier Valley of Seattle, as recently reported in the South Seattle Emerald by former Herald reporter Lizz Giordano.
Similarly, The Urbanist reported on collisions over a decade in that area in 2019.
People also can share their thoughts about the site of Operations and Maintenance Facility North. The building will store 150 light rail cars for cleaning and repairs and needs between 60 and 70 acres, with access to the track, Sound Transit staff said.
Sound Transit staff cited Mariner High School’s 33-acre campus as a comparison.
There are six sites between the Mariner and Southwest Everett Industrial Center stations in consideration.
About 450 full-time employees are expected to work and have administrative and locker room space at the operations and maintenance facility.
One in Seattle stores 104 light rail cars, and Bellevue’s smaller “satellite” site has room for 96.
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This story has been updated to include the Lynnwood City Council’s preferred location for the West Alderwood light rail station.
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