Sound Transit Board approves light-rail stop at MLT Transit Center, still considering 220th station

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The Lynnwood Link preferred plan.
The Lynnwood Link preferred plan.

After one final push from Mountlake Terrace officials, the Sound Transit Board of Directors voted unanimously to make a light-rail line option that stops at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center, then crosses over I-5 and runs along the west-side of the freeway to Lynnwood, their “preferred” route alternative.

The decision, made at the Sound Transit Board Nov. 21 meeting in Seattle, directs ST staff to begin writing a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the light-rail Lynnwood Link that would include:
• Elevated rail line along the east-side of I-5 from the King-Snohomish County line north to the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center
• A station in the parking lot or above 236th Street Southwest at the transit center
• Above-ground rail line extending north of the transit center, crossing over I-5, then running along the west-side of the freeway

The Sound Transit Board is directing staff to also study the possibility of adding a light rail station on the west-side of I-5 at 220th Street Southwest, possibly on Department of Transportation land next to freeway on- and off-ramps, and the option of placing the rail line in the I-5 center median from 220th Street Southwest north to Lynnwood.

City of Mountlake Terrace officials have been pushing Sound Transit to make the option of a station in the transit center, and a possible station at 220th Street Southwest, their preferred choice. Shane Hope, the city’s Community and Economic Development Director testified at the Nov. 21 meeting, reminding ST Board members of the Mountlake Terrace City Council’s preferences regarding route and station alternatives through the city.

While a final EIS is being completed, Sound Transit will also begin engineering plans for the Lynnwood Link preferred alternative. The final EIS is expected to be published in early 2015, with the Sound Transit Board making a final decision on the project soon after.

Sound Transit Board members, while not getting into specifics about route and station alternatives, were pleased to cross this milestone in Lynnwood Link planning.

“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.”

“This is great news for all the communities north of Seattle,” said ST 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.”

Construction on the 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link extending Sound Transit light rail from Northgate to Lynnwood is scheduled to begin in 2018, with service expected to open in late 2023. Cost estimates for the project run as high as $1.7 billion.

ST officials announced on Friday that their University Link light rail extension, running from downtown Seattle to the University District, will open in early 2016, six months earlier than previously announced. There was no word on if this development would change the Lynnwood Link long-range schedule.

— By Doug Petrowski

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