A light rail vehicle at Lynnwood City Center Station
A Siemens-made light rail vehicle parked at Lynnwood City Center Station on a sunny June day to commemorate the beginning of pre-revenue testing (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

It’s only been a few weeks since rev­enue ser­vice was inau­gu­rat­ed on the 2 Line, but already Sound Tran­sit is mov­ing into the home­stretch of prepa­ra­tions to add four new sta­tions to the north­ern end of the 1 Line. On August 30th, Lyn­nwood Link will begin car­ry­ing rid­ers, bring­ing light rail ser­vice to Sno­homish Coun­ty for the first time.

Lead­ers up there are burst­ing with anticipation.

Sound Tran­sit held an event today at Lyn­nwood City Cen­ter Sta­tion to cel­e­brate the begin­ning of pre-rev­enue test­ing. Sno­homish Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dave Somers and Lyn­nwood May­or Chris­tine Frizzell spoke along with Sound Tran­sit inter­im CEO Goran Spar­rman and Deputy Region­al Admin­is­tra­tor Scot Rastel­li of the Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tion (FTA). They offered remarks in front of a Siemens LRV parked at the new sta­tion and con­struc­tion work­ers who have been build­ing the project.

“We’re less than three months away from the open­ing of the Lyn­nwood exten­sion,” said Somers, also a Sound Tran­sit Board Vice Chair. “Each mile­stone brings us that much clos­er to fast, reli­able light rail ser­vice that Sno­homish Coun­ty res­i­dents have been want­i­ng and need­ing for years. I’m thrilled that we will final­ly be able to ride Link and enjoy the eco­nom­ic, cli­mate, and com­mu­ni­ty ben­e­fits that it will bring to the county.”

“Thanks to the hard work of our con­struc­tion teams and staff, the fin­ish line for the Lyn­nwood exten­sion is rapid­ly approach­ing,” said Spar­rman. “With this new phase, our part­ners at King Coun­ty Rail will be play­ing an impor­tant role in ensur­ing that we are ready for full oper­a­tions when we cut the rib­bon on open­ing day.”

Pre-rev­enue test­ing, accord­ing to Sound Tran­sit “includes train­ing for oper­a­tors and main­te­nance staff, and con­tin­ued test­ing to ensure sta­tions, tracks, util­i­ties, and vehi­cles work togeth­er as expect­ed in prepa­ra­tion for the start of service.”

“Dur­ing this peri­od, light rail vehi­cles are run­ning fre­quent­ly between the North­gate and Lyn­nwood City Cen­ter sta­tions,” the agency says. “In addi­tion to trains on the tracks, peo­ple can expect to see main­te­nance vehi­cles, test­ing equip­ment, and per­son­nel involved in the test­ing process, and hear sounds typ­i­cal in an oper­at­ing light rail sys­tem includ­ing sta­tion announce­ments, wheels on the tracks, and warn­ing signals.”

Pret­ty much all of the Lyn­nwood Link align­ment is ele­vat­ed. While the 2 Line has a few at-grade cross­ings in the Bel-Red area, and the Rainier Val­ley por­tion of the 1 Line has even more, Lyn­nwood Link does­n’t have any. All of the sta­tions are aer­i­al sta­tions. And most of the tracks can be seen from Inter­state 5. 

If you dri­ve the inter­state from North­gate up to Exit 181, you can’t miss the new Link right of way. The columns and gird­ers, nes­tled among the trees, will get your attention. 

After pre-rev­enue test­ing comes sim­u­lat­ed ser­vice. “Dur­ing sim­u­lat­ed ser­vice, all trains will dis­charge pas­sen­gers at North­gate and con­tin­ue to Lyn­nwood,” Sound Tran­sit says. (That means pas­sen­gers board­ing at North­gate need to pay atten­tion — some depart­ing trains will be going north and out of ser­vice!) “When the Lyn­nwood exten­sion opens, trains will run every eight min­utes dur­ing peak hours.” 

We have Sta­cy & Witbeck/Kiewit/Hoffman JV and Skan­s­ka Con­struc­tors L300 JV to thank for the com­ple­tion of the project, as they and their work­ers were respon­si­ble for exe­cut­ing the civ­il con­struc­tion on the Lyn­nwood Link extension. 

We also have Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, and the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion to thank. Sound Tran­sit notes that the $3.26 bil­lion project bud­get for Lyn­nwood Link “includes up to $1.17 bil­lion from a Full Fund­ing Grant Agree­ment exe­cut­ed by the Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tion. In addi­tion, the U.S. Depart­ment of Transportation’s Build Amer­i­ca Bureau exe­cut­ed a $658 mil­lion low-inter­est loan sup­port­ing the project, includ­ing new light rail vehi­cles and sup­port facilities.” 

Pret­ty huge assist!

The exten­sion will add the fol­low­ing stations: 

  • Shore­line South/148th Sta­tion. Locat­ed just north­east of I‑5 at the NE 145th Street exit, the ele­vat­ed Shore­line South/148th Sta­tion includes a park­ing garage with approx­i­mate­ly 500 new spaces as part of the project.
  • Shore­line North/185th Sta­tion. Locat­ed on the east side of I‑5, the Shore­line North/185th Sta­tion serves Shore­line Sta­di­um, the Shore­line Con­fer­ence Cen­ter and the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods. Improved pedes­tri­an path­ways con­nect the sta­tion to the west side of I‑5. A park­ing garage with approx­i­mate­ly 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 ele­vat­ed Mount­lake Ter­race Sta­tion strad­dles 236th Street South­west, and is a short walk from the Mount­lake Ter­race Library, new city hall and future tran­sit-ori­ent­ed devel­op­ment. There are 890 exist­ing park­ing spaces near the station.
  • Lyn­nwood City Cen­ter. Locat­ed at the Lyn­nwood Tran­sit Cen­ter, this ele­vat­ed 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 in a five-sto­ry struc­ture opened last year. 

The Lyn­nwood City Cen­ter sta­tion garage is tru­ly mas­sive. It dwarfs the garages Sound Tran­sit built or is build­ing for the 2 Line. How­ev­er, it’s not see­ing heavy usage yet, because there’s lots of con­struc­tion still occur­ring at the sta­tion site (which is help­ing mask the garage’s entrances) and light rail has yet to open. After August 30th, how­ev­er, those expen­sive park­ing stalls are like­ly to see more occupancy. 

Word is going to get out that there’s a new way to move up and down the high­ly con­gest­ed Seattle/Lynnwood cor­ri­dor, espe­cial­ly in the sub­urbs that lie between Seat­tle and Everett. Dur­ing traf­fic jams, motorists on I‑5 will also be able to see trains rolling along above them every few min­utes, unhin­dered and unin­ter­rupt­ed, as they sit and wait.

Com­mu­ni­ty Tran­sit plans to recon­fig­ure some of its bus lines to con­nect to light rail. CEO Ric Ilgen­fritz, a Sound Tran­sit alum, was on hand for the event today and is look­ing for­ward to the region’s rapid tran­sit net­work get­ting more robust. 

Com­mu­ni­ty Tran­sit has a flour­ish­ing bus rapid tran­sit sys­tem called Swift that even sev­er­al Sound Tran­sit crit­ics think is pret­ty great. It has three lines so far: Blue, Green, and Orange. Gold is in plan­ning, along with exten­sions to Blue and Green. 

The Swift Blue Line is set to be extend­ed to the Shore­line North/185th Sta­tion when Lyn­nwood Link opens — that will be one of the key new connections.

Since the 2 Line and 1 Line don’t con­nect yet, Sound Tran­sit can’t make use of the Oper­a­tions & Main­te­nance Facil­i­ty East (a train base) to sup­port 1 Line ser­vice yet. That will require some cre­ative logis­tics. But only tem­porar­i­ly! The agency hopes to have trains run­ning across Lake Wash­ing­ton some­time next year. Addi­tion­al­ly, Sound Tran­sit is still work­ing on plans for a third OMF to be locat­ed in South King Coun­ty. The envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment for that project is now fin­ished and avail­able for review. 

Vot­ers have autho­rized Sound Tran­sit to build light rail all the way to Everett, but project deliv­ery is not antic­i­pat­ed for more than a decade and a half. 

Agency staff are work­ing on that project along with exten­sions to Taco­ma, West Seat­tle and Bal­lard (via South Lake Union and Seat­tle Cen­ter), a new light rail tun­nel under down­town, and anoth­er light rail line on the East­side that’ll run between Kirk­land and Issaquah — not to men­tion two Stride bus rapid tran­sit projects on the I‑405 and State Route 522 cor­ri­dors. Sound Tran­sit’s sys­tem expan­sion is one of the biggest mass tran­sit build-outs in the coun­try, and sore­ly need­ed, giv­en the rebound in traf­fic the region has seen since the stay-home phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sound Tran­sit is expect­ed to release more details about the inau­gu­ra­tion of Lyn­nwood Link next month and in August. Notably, the cho­sen open­ing day is a Fri­day, rather than a Sat­ur­day, the day of the week the agency has usu­al­ly cho­sen for sta­tion openings. 

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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