On Monday, Community Transit announced that it would accept a $43.2 million Small Starts grant from the Federal Transit Administration, completing the last of the $73 million in funding required to complete the Swift Green Line. Portions of the line have actually been under construction for a year, thanks to special authorization from the FTA, and many of the future stations in Everett are paved and ready for new canopy “skeletons” to be installed later this month.
The grant was approved by Congress last year, but was threatened in President Trump’s proposed elimination of the FTA’s Capital Investments Grants program. Sound Transit spokesperson Kimberly Reason told The Times ($) that the program’s grants for Lynnwood Link and Federal Way Link are “still at risk” and that full funding agreements would not be signed until this summer for Lynnwood and next year for Federal Way.
One of the Green Line’s main ridership generators will be the new passenger air terminal at Paine Field, which will be served by three airlines and a dozen daily flights to some short-haul destinations a few months before Swift buses start rolling. The new terminal, however, is a third of a mile away from the Swift station at Airport Road and 100th Street and connected by a narrow, uncovered sidewalk. The walk is fairly pleasant, assuming the weather cooperates, with the only obstacles being a few short crosswalks in front of empty hangar and office parking lots.
Near-term plans for the terminal don’t include a covered walkway or other major pedestrian improvements, but Community Transit says that they are working with Snohomish County and Paine Field to improve access to the Swift station. The terminal’s private operator, Propeller Aviation, said to The Herald recently that it was planning to accommodate Everett Transit service to the front door, which could mesh well with the agency’s long-range plan for frequent service between the airport and transit centers in South Everett.
Looking even further long-term, the extension of Link light rail to Everett via Paine Field could present a golden opportunity to build a larger passenger terminal that integrates light rail and makes it the most convenient option for flyers. Perhaps it would be shifted closer to Airport Road (requiring some hangar demolition and the closure of a short runway) and have a short skybridge connecting to the station’s mezzanine. Or the light rail mezzanine itself could be the terminus for a short train loop that travels to the check-in desks. Sound Transit’s master schedule states that such planning for Everett Link won’t kick into high gear until 2019 or 2020, which should leave ample time for Paine Field to take off as a secondary airport and warrant a larger terminal.