Neighbors: Light-rail expansion could destroy wetlands, homes

LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Gleb Shein likes where he lives. He likes the fact he can walk out the front door of his condominium and within feet have forested wetlands and walking trails surround him. But, Shein is concerned both his home and his neighborhood park could be in jeopardy under plans to extend light rail to Lynnwood.

"One of the alternatives for the extension project runs through the 52nd Street corridor," Shein said. "There are noise concerns, vibration concerns, and site concerns."

With all these in mind, Shein and several of his neighbors have started collecting signatures from citizens opposing several of the options Sound Transit recently made public in its draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Northgate to Lynnwood light rail project. So far, Shein said nearly 1,000 people don't support the idea of building a rail line that would run through part of Scriber Creek Park and result in tearing down the Cedar Creek Condominiums.

"Our main concern is the park," Shein said. "Sound Transit documentation says it will take out one acre of the park, but we will have pillars in place and electricity in place running over the park."

According to Sound Transit, extending light rail to Lynnwood, and eventually to Everett, will help ease transit overcrowding and provide more reliable and rapid transit service during peak and off-peak commutes.

The Lynnwood Link Extension is broken up into three geographic segments, Northgate to Shoreline, Shoreline to Mountlake Terrace, and Mountlake Terrace to Lynnwood. It's the last segment in the $1.2 billion to $1.7 billion dollar project that Shein and some of his neighbors worrying about.

"They are trying to go through a neighborhood," Shein said.

The Sound Transit document outlines three options for the section of rail line that will run from Mountlake Terrace to the Lynnwood Transit Center. The first option routes the rail line from 52nd Avenue to a station on 200th Street. The second option takes the line from 52nd Avenue West to the Lynnwood Transit Center. And, the last option Sound Transit is considering proposes a line from I-5 to the Lynnwood Park & Ride station.

Shein said he and his supporters are particularly concerned with the first two options for the line because they have the greatest potential to negatively affect the area.

"We are hoping for [the third option] because it's the least intrusive and doesn't touch our neighborhoods and our park," he said.

According to Sound Transit, the first option would affect the most properties, displacing up to 77 residences and 31 businesses along the proposed Mountlake Terrace to Lynnwood route. The study also points out the first option would include placing columns and a section of elevated rail line within Scriber Creek Park, which, according to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, "would visually alter this part of the park."

Sound Transit is currently collecting public comments on the proposed light rail plans.

The transportation agency is also hosting four public meetings to talk about the various segments of the Lynnwood Link Extension. The first meeting takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Nile Shrine Golf Course.

Shein and his supporters plan to present Sound Transit with the signatures they've collected at one of the public meetings planned for next week.

Construction on the Lynnwood Light Extension is slated to start in 2018 with service beginning in 2023.

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