CORRECTION 11/29: The Sound Transit board can select any alignment and station studied in the DEIS not just those studied in the FEIS as originally reported. Additionally, Sound Transit clarified that the NE 130th St and 220th St Stations were not advanced to the 30% design level as other alignments and stations included in the FEIS. However, their design and environmental impacts will be brought up to the same level as the rest of the DEIS analysis.
This afternoon the Sound Transit Board will vote on which Lynnwood Link alignments and station locations to include in the Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS). This step is critical because the Preferred Alternative, which will advance to construction, can only use alignments and stations studied in the
FEIS DEIS. Additionally, as explained on Councilmember Conlin’s blog, Sound Transit is only allowed to deviate or modify alignments and station locations if it can stay within the voter approved budget. Conlin goes on to explain how Sound Transit has been able to modify the alignment to accommodate both stations in the future and what it would take to fully fund the stations:
The Preferred Alternative that the Board used as a starting point is the least expensive, no-frills alignment, costed out at $1.267 billion compared to the $1.322 billion budgeted for the route from Northgate to Lynnwood. We had several options to consider as possible additions, including possible rebuilds of bridges at 117th and 185th Street ($26 million), adding a 130th Street Station ($24 million), and adding a 220th Street Station ($42 million). Providing for the 220th Street Station would also require alignment modifications costing $36 million, while adding either of the two stations would require additional train sets at a cost of $40 million. Thus, to do everything we all wanted would bust the budget, taking it up to $1.440 billion.
For that reason, we negotiated a compromise, which drops the bridge rebuilds, modifies the alignment so that it a 220th Street Station would be possible, and builds out the infrastructure so that the two stations can be added at a later date – just barely staying within the budget at $1.321 billion. It’s a good compromise.
If the Board adopts this as the final Lynnwood Link design after completing the EIS process, it will position Sound Transit to add the two stations at one of three points down the line:
- If the engineering undertaken during the EIS project indicates that the project will come in significantly below budget or if revenues significantly exceed projections by the decision point, the Board could decide to add them during construction.
- The Board could include them in the ST3 ballot measure.
- They could be funded at a future date as the system continues to unfold.
It’s exciting to see light rail continuing to grow, and to see the convergence of thinking around transit and housing as decision makers realize how interconnected these are. The decision to include these two provisional stations in the Preferred Alternative is a major step forward.