From the latest on the Link Light rail extension from Northgate to Lynnwood, to parking at the Edmonds Sounder train station, the Edmonds City Council Jan. 15 got an update from Sound Transit on a range of projects.
Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff began the presentation by pointing to the Puget Sound region’s extraordinary growth and accompanying traffic congestion, adding it’s projected that the region’s population with double in the next 30 years.
Sound Transit did receive a $1.17 billion grant funding agreement from the federal government in December 2018 toward the $2.77 billion project, and area residents should expect to see construction work begin in earnest in this spring, Rogoff said. That work will be accompanied by the removal of approximately 4,000 trees along the entire 8.5-mile alignment, but Sound Transit will be replanting nearly 20,000 trees to replace those removed, Rogoff noted.
(Learn more about the anticipated construction work and tree removal and replacement in a related MLTnews story here.)
After Lynnwood Link is completed in summer 2024, Sound Transit will begin work on a 16.3-mile extension to Everett. The agency’s current light rail expansion, coupled with new Bus Rapid Transit systems serving commuters north, east and south of Lake Washington, is the largest transit expansion program in the U.S., Rogoff said.
Sound Transit considers Community Transit — which serves Snohomish County — as a partner in this effort, Rogoff said. Once the Lynnwood Link extension is finished, Community Transit will no longer run commuter buses into Seattle; instead the agency will be “feeding people into the Lynnwood Transit Center, to get a much faster ride on light rail down into Seattle,” Rogoff said.
This will allow the agencies to address what Rogoff called “a vexing problem” in all three counties (Snohomish, King and Pierce) that Sound Transit serves, which is providing sufficient east-west transportation, rather than simply a focus on north-sound movement.
Rogoff then turned the microphone over to Sound Transit’s North Corridor Development Director Kamuron Gurol, who updated the council regarding a plan to spend $40 million on Edmonds and Mukilteo Sounder commuter train station improvements, set for competition by 2024.
The idea is to further develop ridership for the Sounder train northline that serves both Edmonds and Mukilteo, and project goals are currently being developed. The vision is primarily to provide more parking and accessibility — including pedestrian and bike access — at both stations.
Sound Transit is also discussing with the Port of Edmonds whether it would be possible to collaborate with the port on parking that could also be used by Sounder train commuters.
When it came time for questions from councilmembers, a major theme was the availability of parking — both for Edmonds Sounder train commuters and for light rail commuters once the Lynnwood Link extension is completed in 2024.
Rogoff said that Sound Transit is expecting continued short- and long-term pressure on capacity at the Edmonds Sounder Train station. Ridership on the Sounder line has increased 36 percent since 2014 — from 1,265 daily weekday riders in 2014 to 1,729 in 2017 — and there is room for more growth, he said.
As for light rail, Gurol reiterated Rogoff’s earlier statement that Sound Transit will be coordinating with Community Transit to ensure frequent bus service is available west and east so that Edmonds commuters can easily access the Mountlake Terrace light rail station.
Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas asked about the capacity at the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center parking garage — which is full most early weekday mornings — and whether Sound Transit planned to provide more parking to accommodate increased ridership due to light rail.
Rogoff replied that for starters, Sound Transit will be opening all four Lynnwood Link light rail stations at the same time in 2024 — at 145th and 185th in Shoreline, in Mountlake Terrace and in Lynnwood — so the expected surge of riders will be spread out across all four.
More parking will be provided at the Lynnwood station but there was no budget for additional parking in Mountlake Terrace, he added. (Learn more about Mountlake Terrace parking in our related MLTnews story.)
Councilmember Diane Buckshnis asked if Sound Transit was considering adding a parking structure at the Edmonds Sounder Station as part of the $40 million for the Edmonds/Mukilteo project.
Gurol replied that structured parking was very expensive and that $40 million wouldn’t go very far in providing that.
“If you want people to start riding you have to have parking for it,” Buckshnis replied.
Rogoff shared that Sound Transit eventually will be transitioning to paid parking. That is already happening in other lots, where HOV parking is available at a very low rate — $5 a month. Starting with Northgate, Sound Transit will be introducing paid parking for single occupancy vehicles at market rates for some of the spaces.
“We are currently working out both the timeline for rolling this out in a number of parking facilities as well as the rates that will be charged, and will be coming back to you to inform you as to what that will mean for parking in Edmonds,” he said.
— By Teresa Wippel