LYNNWOOD — Speaking under a white canopy, Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith noted the years that have passed since voters approved light-rail expansion in 2008 and Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the line from Northgate to Lynnwood.

“I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m in a wedding tent. I feel like we’ve been engaged for many, many years,” she told dignitaries and staff next to Lynnwood Transit Center. “And today, I think we’re getting married.”

The relationship is bringing big changes to Lynnwood and nearby Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Shoreline.

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Thousands of trees were logged along Interstate 5, where tracks will be built and 20,745 young replacement trees planted. More than 274 houses and businesses are being demolished in the construction zone. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a south-Snohomish County resident, mentioned that central Lynnwood’s gas station and steakhouse are gone, displaced by the project.

New housing and commercial development will follow, plus 2,000 worker-years of union labor building the $2.8 billion, 8.5-mile track and four stations.

Lynnwood wrote land-use codes to encourage hotels, offices and apartments near the stations. Towers 14 to 30 stories are now allowed on some blocks at the city’s center. A new development called Northline Village, proposed where 196th Street Southwest meets 44th Avenue Southwest, would replace an existing strip mall with offices, shops and 1,370 housing units.


After the line to Lynnwood is finished in five years, riders will reach downtown Seattle in 28 minutes.

“We forecast that in 2024 this station will serve more customers than any other station in the entire Sound Transit network,” said Emmitt Heath, CEO of Everett-based Community Transit. “We’re forecasting 18,000 boardings, trains arriving every four to six minutes in the peak, and we will move buses in and out of this station every 35 seconds to deliver patrons coming and leaving.”

Community Transit will quit driving buses into Seattle, where they spend hours in I-5 traffic to drop off and pick up commuter clientele that lives in Snohomish County. Bus hours will be redeployed into more frequent cross-county service.

The Lynnwood station has 20 bus bays. A parking garage will add 500 stalls, bringing the total to near 1,900 parking spots. That’s only one-tenth the ridership estimate, so most will arrive by bus, on foot, on a bike or in a car that won’t be parked for the day in the garage.

Reasons for the long wait for construction to begin include cash flow, a slow public process, new environmental requirements and a costly design that forced Sound Transit to find $200 million savings.

Despite the Trump administration’s budget blueprint that would rollback transit funding, the federal government released a $1.17 billion grant and a $658 million low-interest loan for the Lynnwood line. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., mentioned pressure she brought to get Lynnwood money flowing, and a $2.6 billion national transit-projects bill approved by her committee.