Lynnwood Link Extension early work, tree replacement program to begin soon

Upcoming open houses will highlight preparations for light rail construction, including work to begin replacing approximately 5,300 trees with more than 20,000

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Sound Transit will begin work in the coming weeks to prepare for construction of the 8.5 mile Lynnwood Link Extension, which will extend the line from the Northgate Link station to the Lynnwood Transit Center. The work, most of which take place in the I-5 right of way, includes the replacement of existing trees and sound walls, as well as utility relocation. Light rail construction will begin early this summer.

The Lynnwood Link Extension will have four stations, with service scheduled to begin in 2024. The trip from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle will take just 28 minutes, with service every four to six minutes during peak hours. A video of the final extension route is available online.

The Lynnwood Link route, which was established following years of public involvement, emphasizes reducing the private property acquisition and costs required for the project by prioritizing use of existing transportation right of way along I-5 where possible. A centerpiece of the project’s design is replacing the existing trees in those locations, which is a necessity to build the project, with nearly four times as many trees. 
 
“Extending light rail to North King and Snohomish Counties will offer a powerful and long-awaited alternative to I-5’s terrible congestion,” said Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit’s chief executive officer. “The project design and our construction plans focus on minimizing impacts to the greatest extent possible, but we cannot avoid them altogether. It will be saddening for us all to see less green during the construction, but we will create a greener carbon footprint for the region and surround the line with almost quadruple the number of trees present today.” 

Two upcoming open houses will offer community members opportunities to learn about the project and upcoming preparations for construction: 

Mountlake Terrace
6-8 p.m., Thursday, April 18, Nile Shrine Golf Center (Ballroom), 6601 244th St. SW

Lynnwood
6-8 p.m., Thursday, April 25, Lynwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW

The majority of the trees being removed—77 percent--are located in the I-5 right of way between Seattle and Lynnwood, which is owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Sound Transit worked hard to minimize the impact of construction. Working with WSDOT, the agency worked to minimize the number of trees that would have to be removed. Replacing them will begin as early as possible, and in some cases before construction begins.

The agency will plant larger trees rather than saplings and irrigate and maintain them for a much longer than is usual for construction projects. The project’s vegetation establishment period of 13 years instead of the typical three years will greatly improve the survival rates of new trees planted within the WSDOT right of way. Sound Transit will replace any trees that fail to take root. A video overview outlines the major elements of the program.  

Sound Transit will emphasize the planting of native and adaptive species of trees and other plants. Where needed to enhance survivability Sound Transit contractors will remove invasive species such as blackberries and ivy as part of planting new trees and vegetation.

As part of the tree replacement program, Sound Transit will expand outreach efforts with local schools to emphasize not only safety around light rail but to provide education on the importance of trees and hands-on opportunities for students to help with planting. 

Besides removing trees, Sound Transit will also be removing noise walls along I-5 that will be in the construction zone. The agency will replace the noise walls with temporary noise barriers. As part of its extensive outreach efforts, Sound Transit has been working with residents who may be affected by the noise wall removal to mitigate any impacts.

In addition to attending the public meetings, people can stay informed about the project by signing up for project updates and alerts. More information on the Lynnwood Link Extension is available at https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/lynnwood-link-extension