MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. – Friday marked the official ground breaking as Sound Transit begins building its next extension north, from the University of Washington to the Northgate neighborhood in Seattle.
Trains should be running to Northgate by 2021. But just two years after that in 2023, trains should be running all the way to Lynnwood.
2023 may seem like a long time away, and at 11 years, it is. But Bob and Bea Martin of Mountlake Terrace and a lot of their neighbors along the west side of I-5 are already living with the potential consequences.
“I’m worried about losing my home,” said Bob Martin, who purchased a house along with a large yard about 15 years ago. He and his wife Bea were at home earlier this month when they spied a contractor working for Sound Transit, making marks on their street with a spray can and photographing the neighborhood.
“I asked him, ‘Why are you taking all these pictures?’” said Bea.
She said the man didn’t tell her a lot, but did present her with a Project Alert notifying residents along the Lynnwood extension that they might “notice project staff conducting field observation and testing in neighborhoods along the Interstate 5 corridor.”
Sound Transit said their goal is to keep the trains’ right-of-way on the current Washington State Department of Transportation right-of-way as much as possible. But in some cases, they may have to buy portions or entire plots of private property. For the Martins, that means their neighborhood could become a right-of-way for trains, or a station and park and ride lot, near the major cross street of 220th and I-5.
Yet the neighborhood may stay just the way it is. The problem is not knowing what’s going to happen.
“I’m in limbo,” said Bob.
“All of these are these are possibilities. Nothing is cast in stone,” said Matt Shelden, Light Rail development manager for the North Corridor.
He said around late next summer, the agency should have a pretty good idea which path it is going down. The photographs, noise tests and other research going on now is all part of the environmental impact statement. A draft of that statement should be released by the middle of next year.
But there are no guarantees anybody is definitely on or off the list until the final engineering work is about 60% complete, said Shelden. “That will likely be in the 2016, ’17 timeframe.”
Sound Transit has purchased some private property to build their projects since the beginning. Shelden said most of the time an amicable agreement on the price of the property is reached between the owners and Sound Transit without having to resort to condemnation.
“This is my retirement home,” said Martin, who purchased the property shortly after retiring from the Navy.