The now-demolished McDonalds furniture store at Lynnwood Transit Center

The Federal Transit Administration approved $2.6 billion in Capital Investment Grants funding this week, including $100 million for the Lynnwood Link Extension. The installment in the second granted to Sound Transit for the project, but can’t be used until the signing of a full funding grant agreement (FFGA) between the FTA and Sound Transit, which has slipped past its scheduled summer 2018 date.

The project’s $2.77 billion baseline budget relies on a heavy federal contribution of $1.17 billion, which would be released in installments by the FTA. Sound Transit reports that it is working with the FTA and the state’s congressional delegation to complete the FFGA by the end of the year, which would allow for a trouble-free January 2019 groundbreaking as set in the baseline schedule.

While the funding situation is still being worked out, there are plenty of signs that Lynnwood Link construction is imminent. In early August, the McDonald’s furniture store and Black Angus restaurant were demolished to make way for the future Lynnwood City Center Station and its new parking garage. Several homes at the site of the Shoreline South/145th Station have been vacated and boarded up, awaiting demolition and salvaging. Just south of 145th, a new cell phone tower has been installed to replace an existing tower that was too close to the freeway (and thus in the way of the light rail guideway). Next year, Sound Transit will begin removing trees and other vegetation near the future guideway that will eventually be replaced by nearly 20,000 replanted trees before moving on to utility relocation and actual dirt-churning construction.

The project is scheduled to be compete by mid-2024 and will bring four-car trains through Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, and Lynnwood at frequencies of four minutes during peak periods. The line’s four stations will have a combined 3,790 parking spaces and the travel time from Lynnwood to Westlake is pegged at about 27 minutes, which is comparable to buses in light traffic today.

26 Replies to “Hopes of Federal Funding For Lynnwood Link Not Dead Yet”

  1. Why does Lynnwood have a City Center but Bellevue and Redmond have Downtowns? Is there no thought to consistency?

  2. I have a hard time remembering any geographic part of Lynnwood that would qualify for the traditional designation of “downtown”. Bellevue and Redmond both have had small section of the city that would, historically, be recognizable as “downtown” Belllevue or “downtown” Redmond. Lynnwood may have been such a small community prior to the constructions of I-5 that there wasn’t any identifiable “downtown”. Or, it may have been so overwhelmed by the late 20th century’s suburbanist expansion that “downtown” was razed and replaced with a car lot. Just some ideas…

    1. I thought Lynnwood’s center was at 196th & 99 until I-5 caused it to move, but when they finished the Interurban Trail and I read up on the history of the Interurban, it actually did go to where downtown Lynnwood is now. It was 99 that first caused sprawl by bypassing it. I don’t know what olde Lynnwood was like any more than I know what old Tukwila or Renton were like because they’ve obliterated them with superblocks and big-box stores. But whatever tiny Lynnwood was like, it was there.

      P.S. In the 1990s I attended a church in north Lynnwood and one of the old-timers said that when he was a kid they had gone to a camp way, way, way out in the woods. When they looked at it on a map to figure out where it had been, they found out it was near downtown Lynnwood.

      As a point of reference, the reason Seattle didn’t extend past 85th until the 1950s was that it was still farmland. If Shoreline was rural then you can be sure Lynnwood was.

    2. Yes, If you go to Edmonds or Bothell you can find a district with a “main street” of small businesses that seem to have been there for decades. You don’t find that in Lynnwood. The city recognized this and has developed a City Center plan to guide development to create a sort-of “downtown”. You can poke around their web site for documents.

    3. WellI’m not just thinking of physically walkable but a place where people want to linger and might someday reach the goal of less than 50% car mode share. In southwest Capitol Hill I see people walking around 24 hours and doing errands on foot and some don’t have a car because they find it more trouble than it’s worth. As a non-driver you don’t feel like your some kind of space alien who should get a car, but that there are actually other people like yourself. Do you see that in Mill Creek or Edmonds?

      1. Edmonds does have a walkable downtown, in the sense that 1) The streets are relatively narrow and calmed 2) You can cross the street easily at almost every block 3) Many businesses directly abut the street and, when parking lots exist, they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood. 4) There exists a non-trivial number of nearly homes whose residents might actually walk there.

        Of course, there are many caveats. A large number of the downtown Edmonds businesses take the role of jewelry/souvenir shops, banks/real estate brokers, which are aimed more at tourists, who are driving in from elsewhere, rather than locals who actually live there. Downtown Edmonds also lacks a decent-sized grocery store, so the people who live there are still expected to get in their cars and drive to a less-walkable neighborhood in order to get groceries. And, the public transportation is quite lacking. It has a Sounder to Seattle, which runs 4 times a day, Monday-Friday only. It has buses to Lynnwood, but it’s a patchwork of routes running every 30-60 minutes. From pretty much anywhere in Seattle north of downtown, you could ride a bike all the way to downtown Edmonds and get there, door-to-door, faster than the bus.

      2. Having lived in Capitol Hill for a little over a decade, it’s much easier to get along without a car in that neighborhood — the local super markets are in walking distance for most people, the live music clubs are mostly within walking distance, a short distance for commuting downtown for work by transit and walking, and even before light rail, a multitude of bus lines traveled through and continue to travel through the neighborhood, so that if you miss one bus, you can get another one from a different line at the same stop or a few blocks away; one is rarely in a situation of waiting around for as long as 25-30 minutes because you’re waiting for the one bus line that brings you to walking distance of your home or place of work.

    4. From Wikipedia: “The Lynnwood area was logged and settled by homesteaders in the late 19th century and early 20th century, including the development of Alderwood Manor as a planned farming community.” So it makes sense that there is no historic downtown–it was by design. Neighboring Mountlake Terrace has a small, somewhat run down business center and some historic churches, so I’m thinking may have once served as a rural “town center” for the area (though it wasn’t Mountlake Terrace at the time, it was just part of Alderwood Manor). Those churches may well be the most historic things left in the area.

  3. “… buses in light traffic.”

    When is this light traffic time? The infrequent times that I’ve made this trip have always had some slow-down unless it was after 9 PM on an evening during the week. Midday traffic on weekdays and weekends can even be bad.

    1. Any chance the long travel time is because decades after I-5 was finished, it’s still got one reversible express lane instead of one in each direction? Surprised Buses First advocates haven’t started demanding equality.

      Hope they haven’t given up. Because that would mean I’m the only one left who thinks we should do both LINK and Lanes. Where’s Steve Bannon when I need him! Shouldn’t kid around on this one, though. The founder of the New Electric Journal thought King Louis deserved to get his head cut off for being a liberal.

      Or even worse, a streetcar lover. He even published an article I co-wrote. My head’s a soccer-ball.

      Mark

    2. Sunday morning.

      I prefer to compare the midpoint between 6am and 5pm. Either way Link will have about the same travel time to Lynnwood and Everett as ST Express, but be more reliable and without the traffic jams. It’s Federal Way and Tacoma that will get screwed on Link’s travel time. But they wanted it anyway.

      1. Yeah the light bulb that light rail is slower than other rail technologies has not gone off. It’s not a big deal for places closer in like Bellevue and Lynnwood and Seatac, but the Tacoma and Everett trips will seem to take forever. Of course, how dare we revisit the myopic rail technology choices that went into ST3!

      2. Tacoma said it most wanted a line to the airport to attract businesses, and to attract workers and shoppers from south King County. The fact that it’s continuous with Seattle is a secondary bonus. Tacoma commuters will still have Sounder, and it might be significantly increased if ST can make a reasonable deal with BNSF.

    3. Lol. Yeah, Al S, I had to chuckle a little bit when I read that sentence as well. I live just north of Lynnwood and fairly often have to head into downtown Seattle for work meetings. Very seldom is that traffic light, even in the middle of the afternoon. (Thankfully, most days I am able to work from home.) For me, Lynnwood Link will be handy for personal trips and a two-seat ride to the airport, but most likely won’t do me any good for work-related trips unless I postpone my retirement years. I have serious doubts about ST making a second-half 2024 service date and could easily see this slipping into 2025, almost 30 years since passage of ST2!

      1. Tlsgwm,

        This could be an age thing. My own sense is that the end of my time on Earth will be interplanetary “Escape Velocity”. Because the years seem to be constantly accelerating.

        Also think that feeling of accelerating time is nature’s way of permitting people of different ages to make plans over ever longer amounts of time getting work done. At 16, six year time-frame is “OMG it’ll take me six years to get to Lynnwood”!

        At 73, 2024-2018 coming into Lynnwood: “Damn, I just got into the bathroom at Westlake!” But one consolation: When somebody six years younger than you starts ragging on things like rail development and teenagers, you can say: “When I was 67, ride to Lynnwood took a whole thirty-five seconds.” Also mandatory to say: “You young people don’t know how good you got things”

        Mark

    4. If you are in the commute it is before 6:40 am and often 6:30-7:00 pm but I won’t count after 7:00 pm because the 512 seems to be the only bus running then and it stops everywhere.

      If you are talking the reverse commute around 10-12 am I-5 moves so fast as you approach Lynnwood that police can be quite busy pulling over speeders. I know because I had a stem cell transplant Jan of last year. After I was released from the hospital I had to be driven every single morning for weeks from Lynnwood to First Hill for a blood test and a half hour with a physicians assistant.

    5. ya, what a joke. Traffic during key demand times on that route is never light. I know people who make that trip daily on the bus and they routinely complain about travel times in the 1 hour to 1.5 hour range.

      The proper comparison would be Link in dedicated ROW at 27 mins travel time to Buses Stuck in Traffic at ~60 min travel time. Link will be a blessing for these commuters.

      And note, if traffic on this route was truly “light”, then we wouldn’t be building Link and we probably wouldn’t even be running buses.

  4. You forgot to mention that Sound Transit has begun demolishing houses at the site of the Shoreline North/185th station.

  5. On the subject matter of the Lynnwood Link project budget, please keep in mind the move that ST made to remove the proportionate share for fleet expansion and the Bellevue OMF from the baseline budget, though these costs were included in the original ST2 estimate.

    From Sound Transit’s Resolution 2018-16:

    “The ST2 cost estimate for the Lynnwood Link Extension included proportional costs for vehicles and maintenance. In separate actions, the board established two separate projects – Light Rail Vehicle Expansion project and the Operations and Maintenance Facility East (OMFE) — so these costs are not included in the Lynnwood Link baseline budget. The amounts for vehicles and maintenance attributed to the Lynnwood Link Extension however, will be reflected in the Agency’s Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) application, as required by the FTA.”

    “The ST2 cost estimate for Lynnwood Link Extension, without vehicles and its proportionate share of the operations and maintenance facility, is $2.1 billion [ed note: not really]. By comparison, the proposed baseline budget is $706.6 million greater than the ST2 estimate for the identical scope. This variance includes a $170.2 million project contingency added at the FTA’s request. Without the project contingency the variance would be $536.4 million.”

    “The Lynnwood Link Extension baseline budget is affordable within the existing agency’s long term financial plan, which assumes the award of an FFGA from the FTA for $1.17 billion in Federal
    funds. Sound Transit submitted the FFGA application in March and it is currently under review by the FTA. There is some risk associated with securing the FFGA since the Administration has expressed its intention to no longer execute new FFGAs. However, Congress included $100
    million for the Lynnwood project in the FY 2017 Appropriations Act and included additional funding as well as language in the FY 2018 funding bill that directs the Administration to keep advancing FFGAs for execution. Most recently, the U.S. House of Representatives transportation appropriations subcommittee included more funding for new FFGAs along with instructions to the FTA to move forward on such agreements in its FY2019 Appropriations Bill. In the event this federal funding does not materialize, additional debt will need to be issued to finance the project, which will negatively impact the financial capacity of the agency. If award of major construction
    contracts is delayed past fall of 2018 due to uncertainties related to federal funding, the baseline budget and schedule would need to be reviewed for potential impacts.”

    The agency’s longstanding assertion that the base part of the project (exclusive of fleet expansion and OMF costs) would be in the $1.5-1.7B seems so quaint in retrospect.

  6. Fortunately, Lynnwood’s excessive parking requirements makes Sound Transit’s demolition job relatively easy. For every one story building they knock down, they get additional parking lot land, twice as big as the building itself. Maybe if the area wasn’t so car dependent, the furniture could have even remained, and just sold ST its parking lot. Getting the same amount of land for Capital Hill station required a much bigger impact on the neighborhood, since every square foot requires displacing real people and businesses.

  7. “Yeah the light bulb that light rail is slower than other rail technologies has not gone off. It’s not a big deal for places closer in like Bellevue and Lynnwood and Seatac, but the Tacoma and Everett trips will seem to take forever. Of course, how dare we revisit the myopic rail technology choices that went into ST3!”

    Al S, you don’t have to prove any of this, but please just explain the reasoning, and the experience behind it. Name another rail technology that will be slower than. Having ridden the state rail service in Southern Sweden, though, I’ll grant you this.

    In Karlsruhe, Germany, their tramway system runs the streets, and then full-speed track between cities. Something I’d like very much to see here: Same as for automobiles, giving light rail arterial service in the town and intercity track for speed between. My own definition of “Light Rail” is ability to handle streetcar radii if it has to.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5omU70hTKo&t=169s

    Bad omen in Sweden, though. No matter how many wind turbines they have, with strong support of locals, not only are shopping malls cropping up, but gleefully received McDonalds’. Very largely because America has them! But I think our next move will be the purple trains shown here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtQBWnKphrA

    We’re pretty new in the game here. I can see a time when ridership will reach the stage that we’ll run much faster intercity service. Like express buses when LINK is finished. LINK will count as local service for faster trains. One neglected intermediate stage I’ll push for: toilets.

    But I hope you’re not suggesting that ’til we get the purple bullets, any buses are faster than LINK. Blizzards I’ve encountered riding LINK: every bus I saw on the freeways was standing still.

    Mark

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