Regional light rail line to reach Everett later than first envisioned
Sound Transit dealing with funding complications
EVERETT — A newly revised timeline to expand Sound Transit’s light link rail system moved the needle again for when these trains reach Everett Station, but not as far out as local leaders previously feared.
Now, the plan aims to complete the track section from Lynnwood to South Everett in 2037, and the track section from South Everett to North Everett to 2041. It’s sooner than projections earlier this summer. One of those plans suggested slipping the South Everett section to 2038 and the North Everett section to 2042.
During the 2016 election, Sound Transit boasted it could arrive in 2031.
Sound Transit is dealing with a $6.5 billion shortfall to be able to complete the whole Link light rail system as originally contemplated.
Sound Transit’s board last week voted on adjustments meant to stay as close to target dates promised to voters of the Sound Transit 3 measure while balancing the big funding shortfall. It delays some projects, while prioritizing others. Snohomish County leaders fought to continue prioritizing the “spine” of the rail line from Tacoma to Everett. A competing interest from Seattle and King County is to add the service to more communities.
The South Everett to North Everett link, for example, carries a $602 million gap, or about 12% short, agency projections say.
The economic impact of the coronavirus is just one cause behind the funding gap, The Seattle Times reported. Another is that the cost to buying real estate to place the line is more expensive today.
The South Everett rail section goes from Lynnwood City Center to the Mariner Park and Ride.
The next rail section toward North Everett snakes toward Paine Field before shooting up Interstate 5 to reach Everett Station. It adds four light rail stops: near the intersection of Airport Way and Highway 99, near Paine Field, near the intersection of Highway 526 and Highway 99 and terminates at Everett Station.
The rail line to Lynnwood is expected to open by 2024. It is currently is under construction. This rail section is between Northgate Seattle and Lynnwood and largely parallels Interstate 5.
Sound Transit’s board chair Kent Keel, a City of University Place councilman, and King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, put forward the compromise measure, dubbed the “hybrid model,” which the 18-member Sound Transit board unanimously approved.
An amendment from the county executives of Snohomish County and Pierce County succeeded in getting a rule passed to protect the rail line spine from being bumped out of the way by competing interests.
The Sound Transit 3 ballot package coming this November is effectively a 25-year, $50 million construction plan paid for with a mix of increased sales taxes, car tab fees and property taxes.
Sound Transit’s taxing district broadly reaches across Puget Sound, but within Snohomish County it basically only goes as east as Bothell and Mill Creek and as north as Everett.
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