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Lynnwood light rail trees
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Work to remove over 5,000 trees for Lynnwood light rail begins

(Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio)

The chainsaws are sharpened and workers are ready to go. The start of work on the Lynnwood light rail expansion begins today.

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This is the final piece of the ST-2 expansion approved by voters 11 years ago. It will take light rail from the new Northgate Station about eight-and-a-half miles north into Lynnwood.

Most of the track will run between 5th Avenue and the state right-of-way, adjacent to I-5 as it leaves Northgate. To make room, Sound Transit will have to take down more than 5,000 trees, which we have talked about before.

The first grove to go will be the stretch between 130th and 145th, just to the west of Jackson Park.

“We’re not pleased that we have to take down the trees, but we’re going to be replacing them with four times as many as we take out when construction is done,” Sound Transit’s John Gallagher said.

This work is going to create a big visual distraction for drivers on I-5.

“They need to keep their eyes on the road,” Gallagher said. “The tree process is going to go on for months, so we’re expecting that people will get used to the sight.”

Most of the cutting will happen between the morning and afternoon commutes to keep distractions to a minimum. You need to watch for heavy equipment and trucks in the area. The I-5 northbound shoulder will be blocked. The southbound direction of 5th Avenue, along Jackson park, will have lane reductions and flaggers.

This initial tree cutting will take about two weeks, and it will alter the landscape there. Gallagher said it will take until the fall to cut all of the necessary trees. The biggest loss will be along Mountlake Terrace.

Sound Transit will also be removing sound barriers and putting-up temporary ones. Once all of the trees are removed, construction along the line will begin. Workers will need to grade the area and prep for the pouring of columns and laying tracks.

The Lynnwood expansion is about six months behind schedule, and $200 million over-budget. A lot of that ballooning budget can be traced back higher construction costs and the increased home values that Sound Transit had to purchase along the alignment.

Light rail service to Lynnwood should start in 2024.

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