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Shoreline residents stuck in limbo awaiting Sound Transit to take all or parts of their property

Genevieve Evans' Shoreline home is one of many in the path of a proposed Sound Transit light rail line, as residents await word whether they'll lose all or just part of their property. (MyNorthwest.com Photo)

Genevieve Evans doesn’t know what her future holds.

The 56-year-old saleswoman’s Shoreline property is partially in the path of the planned Sound Transit light rail expansion, and all she can do is wait.

“They want some of my property, but not all,” said Evans. “I’m not going to lose my home like [others] are.”

Evans, who lives on 180th Street, owns one of about 150 homes that will be affected by the light rail project.

Dubbed the Lynnwood Link Extension, the project would add about 8.5 miles of new rail from Northgate to Lynnwood. Two stations will be located at 145th Street and 185th Street, if current plans are approved.

Sound Transit has notified residents living near the planned line the agency could take all or parts of their property. But the Sound Transit Board has not selected a final design. That means not even officials with Sound Transit know exactly which homes will be affected.

“It is a wait-and-see position because we don’t know yet what the alignment [of the light rail] will be,” said Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray. Sound Transit will keep potentially affected Shoreline residents up-to-date.

Evans was told about 300-square feet on the corner of her property will be needed. She was also asked if her property could be used for construction access.

If someone’s property is deemed necessary for the project, Sound Transit will do all it can to work with the owners, said Gray. Ultimately, the agency will invoke eminent domain and take property if it has to.

If Sound Transit needs property for the project, homeowners will be paid. Gray said Sound Transit will determine a value of someone’s home and property. If the homeowner disagrees, they can arrange for their own assessment, paid for by Sound Transit. An arbitrator would be brought in if neither party agrees on the value.

During price negotiations, if the homeowner and Sound Transit can’t reach an agreement, the case can be brought to a jury trial, said Gray.

Evans is frustrated and won’t not know exactly how she will be impacted until around May. Since the project is not finalized, she is still waiting to see how much of her property will be needed.

“I’m kind of sitting in a spot where [I’m] doing a lot of waiting to see what happens,” she said. “My options are not quite cut and dry.”

The final design and permitting will continue through 2018, according to Sound Transit. The final design is subject to Sound Transit Board’s approval.

Construction is expected to start by 2018 and be completed in 2023.

Light rail service is expected to begin in late 2023.

The decision to build a light rail follows community input in 2011, where the transit board confirmed the service “is the best mode of transit,” according to Sound Transit.

Having lived in her home for more than 12 years, Evans thinks about the possibility of retirement. Eventually, she would like to sell her home and downsize. She said the project makes that difficult, if not impossible.

“I can’t put my house on the market and not disclose the fact that the light rail wants some of the property,” she said. The home will also be worth less than what she paid for it: below $300,000.

“I’m essentially done with this before it’s even begun.”

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