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Major construction about to start on Lynnwood light rail extension

It’s been several months since Sound Transit took down thousands of trees along I-5 to make way for the Lynnwood light rail extension. What kind of process has it made since then?

Regular I-5 drivers between Seattle and Lynnwood have been watching a landscape that seems to change daily, as areas continue to be excavated and cleared to make room for the incoming tracks. The footprint for the station at 145th is also really starting to take shape. That’s probably the most visible change, beside the naked hillsides that lost their trees. Most of the other work has been behind the scenes.

“We’ve done the clearing and the grading,” Sound Transit’s John Gallagher said. “There’s a lot of work being done to relocate utilities.”

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Most of that preliminary work has been completed, and now it’s time to start construction. I visited the 145th station construction zone and watched workers put together one of the metal forms that will be used to pour the concrete columns.

“It’s going to be really noticeable over the next several months,” Gallagher said. “You’ll start seeing the columns going up.”

If you can’t quite picture where the light rail line will be going, check out this animation. It will run along the east side of I-5 all the way to Mountlake Terrace, where it will cross I-5 to the west side of the freeway. Some of the tracks will be elevated. In other spots, the train will run at grade. All of the stations will be elevated.

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This $2.9 billion project is still on schedule. The Lynnwood extension should open in July of 2024. The Northgate station should open in September of 2021.

Gallagher said drivers need to be patient over the next five years as the line is built out.  They should expect lane closures and ramp closures to accommodate construction.  Drivers have experienced some of those this week.

The Lynnwood extension is still running about $500 million over the original estimates. Sound Transit has previously cited the increase costs of the homes it had to buy to make room for the tracks, and the increased construction costs as the reasons.

It continues to look for ways to make up that shortfall in design.

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