The Snohomish County government has started early scoping for the seven stations on the Everett Link Extension, which is scheduled to open in 2036. An online open house and survey is open until the end of the month to collect feedback on potential station locations near the current Ash Way and Mariner park and rides in northern Lynnwood and southern Everett. The survey will inform the county’s recommendations to Sound Transit when it begins the official scoping process in 2020.
The open house follows an earlier survey that was conducted over the summer and gathered general suggestions on an interactive map, similar to those used recently for ST3 projects in Seattle and Tacoma. Of 114 map comments collected, the top-ranking answers wished to address affordable housing, at-grade crossings, public amenities, and alternate routes over I-5 for cyclists, pedestrians, and buses to and from the stations.
A set of three concepts for each station were generated by the county based on the suggestions and criteria accounting for design constraints, future connections to the Swift Green and Orange lines, bicycle and pedestrian accessibility, and TOD opportunities. The TOD scoring assumes that mixed-use development of buildings ranging from three to ten stories would be programmed within the half-mile walkshed of each potential station site.
For Mariner Station, where the shelters for the Swift Green Line have already been set up and painted in the brand’s colors, the three options are all within a block of each other on the northwest side of the park-and-ride lot. The representative project description for Everett Link also lists a 550-space parking garage at Mariner, which could be built on top of the current park-and-ride lot.
Option A would place the station on 128th Street Southwest at 8th Avenue West, the furthest walk from the current park-and-ride and bus bays. It could include a better Swift transfer if the current station is relocated, and was rated with good potential for TOD while also serving the existing commercial strip and several nearby apartment complexes.
Option B would put the station right over the intersection of 128th Street Southwest and 4th Avenue West, one block north of the bus bays and adjacent to the current Swift station. It would require a wider turn for trains, running into potential right-of-way issues, but scores high for TOD and access to the Interurban Trail.
Option C would also use a diagonal station, but take a shallower turn across the current shopping center immediately west of the bus bays. It would have a further walk from Swift, but rates high on TOD potential and its simple design.
Ash Way Station would not require a new parking garage under the representative project description, but comes with major design hurdles due to its location on the narrow strip between I-5 and the Swamp Creek wetland area. To the north of the current park-and-ride is a complex of a half-dozen apartment buildings and townhouses that were opened in the mid-2010s and house hundreds of people.
Option A would place the station over 164th Street Southwest at the Ash Way intersection, with most of the immediate walkshed cut off by the I-5 interchange and the wetlands at the bottom of a major hill. It rates low on TOD opportunities but has favorable access to the Swift Orange Line, which would run along 164th and connect the station to Mill Creek, Alderwood Mall, and Edmonds.
Option B would bisect the current park-and-ride lot, placing the platforms just south of the bus bays and have few complications for track design. It would, however, have poor connections to Swift and nearby pedestrian facilities while also limiting future TOD. For this option, Swift buses would have to endure four traffic signals and a ride around the bus loop, which would cause significant delays to serve potential transfers from Link.
Option C would be a radical departure from the other two options, placing the Ash Way Station on the east side of I-5 at the intersection of 164th Street Southwest and 13th Avenue West and completely disassociating itself from the park-and-ride and the namesake street. In fact, it would be closer to Martha Lake (which would serve as a better station name) and have better connectivity from downtown Mill Creek, which would only be 1.5 miles away. The Option C station would also have better connections to the Swift Orange Line and plenty of TOD potential that is further from the I-5 off-ramps and free of any environmentally sensitive areas. The station and a potential relocation of the bus bays would require demolition of one or more major retailers in the area, including a Walmart, and would require two major crossings of Interstate 5, which would increase project costs and engineering complexities.
Thinking long-term, it’s obvious that the station options furthest removed from Interstate 5 and aligned with Swift would be the best choice, regardless of cost and complexity. The survey will run until November 30 and would be followed up with subarea planning for the recommended station options chosen by Sound Transit sometime in the next few years.