Sound Transit board picks preferred alternative for Lynnwood Link light rail

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Important milestone puts light rail one step closer to Snohomish County

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today identified a preferred alternative to extend light rail from the Northgate mall area in Seattle north to Lynwood in Snohomish County.  The preferred route will mostly run adjacent to I-5 with stations in the Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood areas.

The preferred alternative  maintains access to the culturally important Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in north Seattle and minimizes impacts to sensitive areas (wetlands, parks, and streams) that were identified in the project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and in public comments. This important milestone keeps the project on track to begin construction in 2018 and open by 2023.  

"Today's unanimous board vote marks an important step forward in expanding the regional light rail spine," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "Lynnwood Link will provide the fast, frequent and reliable transit service that we need along this congested corridor connecting Snohomish and King Counties."   

Heading north from Northgate, the alignment for the preferred alternative  runs mostly at grade on the east side of I-5 to the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center before moving to the west side of I-5 and continuing to the Lynnwood Transit Center. Potential station sites are at 145th, 185th and the Mountlake and Lynnwood transit centers. The Board also directed staff to study options for stations at 130th in Seattle and 220th in Mountlake Terrace. Staff will also examine running trains in the I-5 median between Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.  

"Every day thousands of commuters travel between Snohomish and King Counties," said Sound Transit Board member and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick. "While our buses do a great job keeping folks moving, we're excited to take this next step toward making a congestion-free light rail connection to Snohomish County a reality."  

Sound Transit will advance engineering work on the preferred alternative as it completes a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) which will include analysis of the preferred alternative as well as all alternatives considered in the Draft EIS. The Board will make a final decision on the project to be built after the FEIS is published in 2015.  

The 8.5-mile extension is scheduled to open in 2023 and could add up to 70,000 daily riders to the light rail system by 2035. The line cuts through one of the most congested corridors in Washington and will move riders from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle in about 30 minutes, regardless of traffic conditions.  

"This is a huge step towards ultimately connecting Everett with the regional light rail spine," said Sound Transit Board member and Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts. "And thanks to the extensive input we've received from communities along the route, we have a better project moving forward."  

It will connect with the light rail lines already under construction between downtown and Northgate with stations serving the University of Washington area and Capitol Hill. The East Link project connecting Microsoft, Bellevue, Mercer Island and downtown Seattle is also scheduled for completion by 2023, providing another fast connection for Lynnwood to regional employment and housing centers.  

"This is great news for all the communities north of Seattle," said Sound Transit Board member and Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling. "Light rail will help us grow in a smart way that maintains the quality of life we love about this region."  

Details of the preferred alignment and station alternatives can be found at: www.soundtransit.org/Lynnwoodextension  

With the completion of all Sound Transit 2 light rail expansions in 2023, Lynnwood Link will be part of a regional light rail system stretching more than 50 miles and carrying more than 300,000 passengers each weekday.