The Sound Regional Transit Authority in Washington, US, has made its route recommendations for the construction of the light rail to Lynnwood and endorsed the route along the Interstate 5 (I-5) corridor.

The authority has proposed an extension of the light rail guideway from the Northgate Station to the Lynnwood Transit Center along the I-5 corridor.

Studies revealed that the I-5 light rail corridor is the most cost-effective alternative and would be competitive for a federal New Starts grant under current New Starts rating criteria than an alternative SR 99 light rail corridor.

The SR 99 corridor alternative is estimated to cost about $2bn-$2.3bn, about 40% more to build, than the I-5 corridor line pegged at $1.4bn-$1.6bn, because of 1.7 miles of additional guideway length, the additional station and fleets and slower travel times.

It would also cost $11m a year, one third more to operate annually the SR 99, compared to the $14.6m estimated for I-5 corridor route.

The Sound Transit report noted "an SR 99 light rail produces eight percent fewer total riders in 2030 (48,000/day v. 52,000 a day), 15% fewer new riders (3.9 v. 4.5 M/year) and 16% less travel time savings (3.8 v. 4.6 M/year) than I-5 light rail."

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The SR 99 alternative is less direct and is 28% slower than the I-5 alternative between Northgate and Lynnwood (18 v. 14 minutes).

These factors were identified to cause 19% fewer savings in regional vehicle miles travelled for the SR 99 alternative than the I-5 alternative.

Both corridor alternatives have two stations in common, and they both connect to the Northgate Station, a major focus of transitoriented development activity.

The North Corridor Transit Project is part of ST2 Regional Transit System Plan and extends light rail from Northgate Station in the city of Seattle to the city of Lynnwood in Snohomish County.

The project also serves the cities of Shoreline and Mountlake Terrace along the I-5 corridor.

The stations, alignment and other profiles will be determined following the issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and a decision by the board on the committee’s recommendation, expected to be issued by 15 December 2011.