Light rail tracks now snake north along I-5, more than a year and a half after Sound Transit broke ground on the Lynnwood Link Extension. Stations take shape as crews place girders for light rail’s long-awaited descent into Snohomish County.
In late May, crews installed the last of the 188 columns that line the 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link Extension. Girder spans are 75% complete, with 94 of 126 in place. Sound Transit projects daily ridership along the four-station extension could reach 55,000 just a few years after opening in 2024.
The track towers over I-5 as it rollercoasters its way from Northgate to the first of two stations in Shoreline. A provisional station at NE 130th, part of ST3, will eventually bridge that gap.
At the South Shoreline Station, located just east of I-5 at NE 148th Street, a 500-stall parking garage hides behind a maze of construction.
Renderings show a bus loop running between the station’s elevated platform and the parking garage – where riders can connect to Sound Transit’s bus rapid transit line, Stride 3. Scheduled to open in 2025, the line will run between Shoreline and Bothell along State Road 522. The line will include a separate car drop off area.
At the next stop, a couple miles to the north, a revamped 185th Street Station design places the 500-spot parking garage on the east side of the highway, much closer to the station.
Here, in late May, the site was the quietest of the four. An under-construction parking garage was the only sign that light rail was coming. Eventually, a bus loop will occupy the top deck of the partially-buried garage.
At the Mountlake Terrace Station, a nearly empty interim parking lot overlooked the bustling construction site where crews prepared the ground for a surface lot and continued placing girders. If Sound Transit had predicted a global pandemic would keep many people home for more than a year, the agency could have saved some parking costs.
No new parking is planned for the transit center, which has space for about 670 cars between a garage and surface lot.
In anticipation of the light rail expansion, developers added hundreds of units of housing and thousands of feet of commercial space in the station vicinity. Once trains start running, residents at one of these buildings, Terrace Station, will be able to watch trains come and go from the comfort of their living room. This front row seat costs between $1,400 for a studio and almost $3,000 for a larger floor plan, according to Zillow.
Shortly after leaving the Mountlake Terrace Station, the track bends west, taking the train over I-5 and toward the Lynnwood City Center Station.
Activity stretches across several blocks as workers weave the track through the site — the interim terminus until work begins to complete the spine to Everett.
The first signs of the station platform are visible from the ground. A new parking garage will eventually be built between the station and I-5.
The track ends just after crossing 44th Avenue W. The first trains could begin running on the newly laid track by late 2023, when the extension enters the testing phase.