CHOKEPOINTS

Get excited, travelers: Light rail expansion to Lynnwood opens in August

Apr 4, 2024, 1:43 PM | Updated: 8:20 pm

Image: The Mountlake Terrace light rail station, looking south next to Interstate 5, is seen on Thu...

The Mountlake Terrace light rail station, looking south next to Interstate 5, is seen on Thursday, April 4, 2024. (Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

The Link 1 Line, the light rail between Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood and Lynnwood, will begin operating on Aug. 30, Sound Transit announced in a news release Thursday afternoon.

The 8 1/2-mile extension is expected to carry up to 55,000 riders a day by 2026. According to Sound Transit, it will add four new stations:

  • Shoreline South station at 148th Street: Located just northeast of Interstate 5 (I-5) at the Northeast 145th Street exit, the elevated Shoreline South Station includes a parking garage with around 500 new spaces as part of the project.
  • Shoreline North station at 185th Street: Located on the east side of I-5, the Shoreline North Station serves Shoreline Stadium, the Shoreline Conference Center and the surrounding neighborhoods. Pedestrian pathways connect the station to the west side of I-5. A parking garage with around 500 new spaces is part of the project.
  • Mountlake Terrace station: Located east of I-5 at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center just north of 236th Street Southwest, west of Veterans Memorial Park, the Mountlake Terrace Station straddles 236th Street Southwest and is a short walk from the Mountlake Terrace Library, new City Hall and the future Gateway transit-oriented development neighborhood. There are 890 existing parking spaces at the station.
  • Lynnwood City Center: Located at the Lynnwood Transit Center, this station serves one of the busiest transit centers in the region, with extensive connections to local and regional service. A new garage containing 1,670 parking stalls opened last year.

“For the first time, the light rail system is joining two counties, bringing voters’ vision for our region’s integrated transit system one step closer to reality. Thanks to the collaboration between our region’s transit agencies, we are ready for the start of service, with increased capacity for Link riders and a smooth service transition for other riders,” King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine said in the release.

Sound Transit Media Relations Manager John Gallagher made a similar point to KIRO Newsradio Thursday.

“This is the first time the light rail actually crosses over from King County into another county. So we’re getting to build out the network,” Gallagher said.

Past coverage: Biden’s federal budget brings aid, funds to Lynnwood Link extension

Gallagher went on to specifically point out the significance of getting into Snohomish County.

“Getting into Snohomish County is a major milestone. It’s going to make life a lot better for Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Shoreline because it opens up options to them,” Gallagher noted.

Looking more at the project

However, the project is running about a year behind schedule. It was supposed to open in late 2023. In fact, Sound Transit was originally supposed to announce the opening day for the light rail extension on Thursday morning at an in-person event with lawmakers, but canceled it. Instead, they sent a news release in the afternoon.

The project cost more than $3 billion. It was running more than $500 million over budget as construction started in 2019. The added costs came from increased property values of the land the agency had to purchase and increases in construction costs.

“Construction costs (and) property acquisition costs have skyrocketed in our region. It’s not just us that is experiencing this problem. That is the reason why we had to increase the budget by $500 million,” Gallagher said to KIRO Newsradio.

This extension is part of Sound Transit 2 (ST2), which voters passed in 2008.

The 2008 original plan states that another one million people are expected to call the Central Puget Sound home in the next 25 years, in other words, the region is growing by over 40,000 people per year.

Sound Transit promises easy trips to Seattle, airport

But the good news is Sound Transit is promising 28-minute trips from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle and 56-minute trips to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The extension will also take Lynnwood residents to the University of Washington and South Snohomish County.

Other light rail plans: Sound Transit unanimously approves East Link starter line to open spring 2024

There will also be more storage for trains to prevent crowding for passengers, stated Sound Transit in a news release on March 7.

“Snohomish County’s residents are eager to take advantage of improved mass transit and additional commuting options, particularly as Lynnwood Link prepares to launch,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers in the release. “We want people to use Link when it opens since it is both convenient and good for the environment. By addressing the Board’s concerns about crowding, Sound Transit is proactively preparing for improved service for transit users across the region, and we greatly appreciate the responsiveness.”

Sound Transit will also provide alternative bus service between Snohomish County and Seattle.

“The improved capacity and alternative bus service will help relieve the potential for overcrowding, making the new extension all the more attractive for passengers,” said Sound Transit Rider Experience and Operations Committee Chair and Tacoma Councilmember Kristina Walker.

In October 2021, Sound Transit opened Northgate, Roosevelt and U-District Link light rail stations.

To plan your next trip, visit Sound Transit’s website.

Contributing: Chris Sullivan and Micki Gamez, KIRO Newsradio; Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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Get excited, travelers: Light rail expansion to Lynnwood opens in August