Draft Transportation Master Plan Ready for More Public Input

The citizen volunteers on Tacoma's Transportation Commission, along with City of Tacoma staff, have been hard at work developing the first draft of a plan that will guide decisions about transportation in Tacoma for years to come. The Draft Transportation Master Plan is now ready for public review - and comment.

After taking public input on concerns, recommendations, and priorities for transportation improvements in Tacoma, the Commission and staff developed the draft plan, which gives a high-level vision of major corridors and backbone networks for all travel modes, and explains where improvements to the network are needed to support Tacoma's long-range growth strategy.

The draft TMP lays out how Tacoma will accommodate future growth, and the accompanying growing demand on transportation systems. Inclusion in the plan is also necessary for projects to be eligible for state and federal grants.

The Plan’s role is to help the Tacoma community consider its transportation systems, how well they’re functioning and what needs, including funding, will be necessary over the next 20 years and beyond. 



The draft TMP includes a list of priorities and values that came out of the initial round of public process, listed as 10 items describing a community vision for transportation in Tacoma. 

  1. A transportation network that prioritizes people over cars.
  2. Innovative and equitable reflecting the rich diversity of Tacoma.
  3. Not harming actual vehicular mobility.
  4. Preserve the heavy haul network and streets where trucks are allowed, specifically around the Port.
  5. Emphasize mass transit while encouraging local economies and community.
  6. A better, more comprehensive light rail system.
  7. More frequent buses covering more of the city, better infrastructure for walking and biking.
  8. Efficient, regular, reliable, multimodal connections between Tacoma’s neighborhood centers and mixed use centers.
  9. Better streets, equitably improved, that serve all Tacomans.
  10. Truly walkable neighborhoods with reasonable transit options to go farther when needed. 

These basic concepts guided the commission as it developed the TMP. Also included in the full plan are key public priorities for each specific mode of transportation.

As a comprehensive plan for transportation in Tacoma, there are a lot of overlapping and at times conflicting interests. There's a lot going on in this document that attempts to address those interests. We see some interesting strategies around layered transportation networks and the 20-minute neighborhood concept.



The draft TMP acknowledges that it's often a challenge for a single road to meet the demands of all modes of transportation. To address this challenge, the commission adopted a concept in which the key corridors and routes for each mode are represented in their own networks, which are then layered over each other.

It is often a challenge for a single roadway to meet the demands and expectations of all modes at any given time. This has certainly been the case in Tacoma, where the city streets have been expected to concurrently serve autos, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, and buses. In response to this challenge, this TMP has been developed using the concept of a ‘layered network’. 

Layered networks recognize that while all traveler types need to be accommodated within a community, no single street can accommodate all transportation users at all times

Some roads will clearly be critical to one mode, and less so to others. In other places, however, there will be overlap, where a particular road will be of high value to two or more modes. In these situations, the plan uses a matrix to visualize the priorities for a particular roadway. 

Pedestrian use is always a top priority, but the other modes may vary in their prioritization. The matrix shows the higher value mode for each situation on the left, with the secondary modes listed along the top of the grid. Each cell represents a spot where needs overlap, and the different possible dynamics. For example, the second cell down in the far right column shows a situation where bike traffic and freight routes overlap, with bikes taking priority. In the cell on the bottom left, on the other hand, the same two modes come together, but this time freight gets priority.

The street layouts shown in the grid don't represent a street design standard, but instead represent an overall philosophy to how different modes might be prioritized and accommodated. 



Another interesting concept included in the TMP is the idea of the 20-minute neighborhood. This idea is based on the idea that most Americans won't walk more than a mile (or about 20 minutes) to any destination on a regular basis. The TMP draws 20-minute neighborhoods around Tacoma's designated growth centers, areas that will see the most population growth and where the most destinations are locate - areas likely to serve the greatest number of people. While some level of pedestrian accommodations are slated for all Tacoma streets, standards for pedestrian facilities within the footprints of these neighborhoods are higher.



These are just a few of the concepts included in the draft Transportation Master Plan. There are a lot more ideas and strategies listed for achieving a vision of a Tacoma with a safe, sustainable, multimodal transportation system that promotes healthy living. 

The transportation network laid out is an aspirational vision for getting around Tacoma in the future, but it's the framework for a strategic approach to transportation investments in the years and decades to come. At this point you won't see any block-by-block, project-by-project list to check for your favorite pet project. What you do see, though, is the philosophy that will guide decisions on where to make investments to have the greatest strategic impact.

It's not set in stone yet, either. This draft has been posted for public feedback, and a series of upcoming workshops will give the public the opportunity to learn more, ask questions, and give feedback. Among the questions the Transportation Commission and City staff have for you are these two:

  • Which streets need to form the backbone network for each mode (transit, bike, auto, freight)?
  • Do the goals reflect your vision for Tacoma? 

Think about it. Tell them what you think. And while you're at it, we're curious to know what you think too...

Learn more, including viewing the full draft TMP as it stands at this point at cityoftacoma.org/tmp.

Attend a Workshop

Monday March 23
6 PM - 8 PM
Freighthouse Square
2501 East D Street

Monday March 30
6 PM - 8 PM
Lincoln High School
701 South 37th Street

Thursday April 2
6 PM - 8 PM
Truman Middle School
5801 North 35th Street

Thursday April 9
6 PM - 8 PM
Gray Middle School
6229 South Tyler Street

Thursday April 16
6 PM -8 PM
Jason Lee Middle School
602 North Sprague Avenue

Thursday April 23
6 PM -8 PM
Tacoma Nature Center
1919 South Tyler Street

  • 3/23 6-8pm - Freighthouse Square (2501 E. D St.)
  • 3/30 6-8pm - Lincoln High School (701 S. 37th St.)
  • 4/2 6-8pm - Truman Middle School (5801 N. 35th St.)
  • 4/9 6-8pm - STAR Center (3873 S. 66th St.)
  • 4/16 6-8pm - Jason Lee Middle School (602 N. Sprague Ave.)
  • 4/23 6-8pm - Tacoma Nature Center (1919 S. Tyler St.)

To view the plan, visit cityoftacoma.org/tmp Email comments to: tmp@ci.tacoma.wa.us

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Is the Draft Plan posted online so that residents have a chance to study it and show up at the outreach events prepared to ask questions?  If not, why not?

March 16, 2015 at 8:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The link to the draft is towards the end of the article.

March 16, 2015 at 5:10 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Here’s the draft plan. 


Here’s an idea:  How about we put everything else contained therein on hold and adopt first seven words out of this one section and set about implementing that as our “plan?”

4.10 Fix It First

Prioritize roadway preservation projects and

consider the long term maintenance costs of

new capacity as part of the up-front cost of


Once we have restored and preserved what pavement still exists, then we can discuss the Christmas list of discretionary spending contained in the document. 

Either that or we will end up with nothing but another couple decades of spending our transportation revenues in the most irresponsible, capricious nonsensical way imaginable.

March 16, 2015 at 8:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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It would be awesome to see something worthwhile done with Tacoma Avenue through downtown.  An on and off-ramp (creative engineering?) from I-5 would be great in the sense it would increase traffic in Tacoma mid-hill and provide a freeway exit within blocks of the Lincoln District.  In some places, that street doesn’t even have passable sidewalks.

I thought streetcar would have been a great choice for Tacoma Avenue and a east-west connector to serve the Hilltop Business District instead… if on Tacoma Avenue, streetcar could easily cross I-5 to Lincoln - a much better South Tacoma option than Portland Avenue IMO.

March 16, 2015 at 11:17 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Elizabeth Burris

Great job members of the Transportation Commission!
This just shows that citizens and government can work together to make Great things happen.

PS Pierce County you could learn a bit from this!

March 16, 2015 at 5:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Justin Leighton, Jane Ann Moore, Gary Hofmann, Michael Hutchinson, Judi Hyman, Yoshi Kumara, Vance Lelli, Jacki Skaught, Andrew Strobel, John Thurlow, Kristina Walker

This is the Transportation Commission.  I wonder how many of them were involved in the rogue painting of the right-of-way last year?

March 16, 2015 at 8:12 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Wow, leave it to you to ask a loaded question with the assumption of guilt on a bunch of community volunteers.  Rude.

March 18, 2015 at 3:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Dan Hansen

My first impressions of this document are very positive. I think the 6 key goals are spot on. I’m glad that there is a recognition that cycle tracks (bike lanes separated from traffic) are needed on some major north-south routes. Because SR 16 overpasses and the Nalley Valley bluffs limit that direction of travel to only a few roads, bicycle boulevards are not an option. This makes cycle tracks necessary to create bicycle connections that work for people of all ages and abilities. The City is to be commended for the scope of this document and for putting this effort into good planning. I hope we can get Pierce Transit to buy into the goals of the plan, namely facilitating transportation choices within and among the mixed use centers.

After a brief look at the maps, however, there are a couple headscratchers for me. I will of course send my feedback to the City as well.

1. The Water Ditch, er…Flume Line trail is shown as bike lanes on South Tacoma Way between South 43rd Street and South C Street for some reason. The city has already won a grant and committed to building a “concrete multi-use trail” for Phase IV between South M Street and South C Street (direct quotes from description to PSRC regional TIP project TAC-92, federal aid # CM9927(054)). Now the preferred option for Phase III as described in the Exit 133 article last week is a shared-use trail between South Pine Street and South M Street http://www.exit133.com/events/details/water-flume-line-trail-phase-3-open-house#.VQenWI7F-So. Let’s show a shared-use path on the map from the Prairie Line Trail to the Lakewood City limits.

2. Union Avenue north-south is considered a medium priority on the transit map. It should be a high priority. It connects the mixed-use centers of Proctor, 6th & Pine (via short walk or transfer), Tacoma Central (Hospital, Walmart, Target), Tacoma Mall (regional growth center), and the Nalley Valley Manufacturing Industrial Center (which shows the highest job growth outside of downtown in this plan). It could also connect to South Tacoma and Lakewood if it was extended a bit. Certainly it is more important than Pearl St.

March 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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California public workers may be at risk of losing promised pensions

This is important to pay attention to.  The Tacoma model of neglecting infrastructure maintenance and preservation while funding discretionary projects is a major causal factor in what brought these California cities to bankruptcy.  The deterioration curve once maintenance is “deferred” is non linear and once the deterioration curve passes a certain point it becomes totally unsustainable e.g. the city is forced into bankruptcy by it.  Tacoma is not far behind these California cities and I you take a look at what happened to property values in Stockton once the city was bankrupt, you don’t want to go there.  What is more, Tacoma’s municipal workers had better start paying attention to who their unions are supporting for office and what their position on this is or they may not enjoy the retirement they have been planning for.  That goes for TPU employees as well, they are in Tacoma’s retirement system and if the City of Tacoma keeps electing the quality of idiot that it has, their retirement will not be safe.

March 18, 2015 at 5:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’m liking the comprehensive nature of this plan.  Gives a clear direction of the growth Tacoma is about to face and where to prioritize resources.  And surprise!  A streetcar plan.  Something we’ve needed for a decade now.

March 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The residents were polled on what their priorities are and restoration, preservation and maintenance of our EXISTING pavement is BY FAR what thy see as our number one priority.  In fact streetcars shrink to insignificance in comparison to cycle tracks and cycle tracks did not even come up in numbers big enough to even register when residents were asked what their priorities are.

We NEED to stop pissing away our transportation dollars on crap and we NEED to focus on restoring our existing infrastructure before Tacoma is forced into bankruptcy.

March 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Streetcar funding is primarily grant funded and has nothing to do with maintenance funding.  Different pots of money from different sources.  Just that simple.

March 18, 2015 at 11:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If “grant funded” were the panacea you purport it to be Tacoma streets would not resemble the streets of Dresden in 1944.  The City needs to focus exclusively on undoing the damage that the leadership of the last two plus decades has wrought.  The incompetent in charge of the City’s Public Works department doesn’t even have a relatively recent Pavement Assessment and no one has informed the City Council of the state of our existing public works infrastructure in ~ a decade.  This and the City Council has just given the City Manager “high marks” for the job he is doing????  Are you flippin’ kidding me!!! For what, I ask.  The only thing that comes to mind is that these half-wits thing that he has given them plausible deniability for knowing what their terrible policies are responsible for.  The City Manager, through the Public Works Director, is directly responsible for keeping the City Council informed regarding the state of the infrastructure.  This means that these two individuals should be saying to the Council on a yearly basis: “this is where we are today, this is where we have come to over the last five or ten years and these are our options moving into the future.”  This should be based on an objective assessment and these grifters and incompetents have not even had a pavement assessment done in a decade.  That’s right, a decade, the last report was based on numbers the City got in 2006 and that means the damn assessment was done enough prior to that to allow time for the analyses to be done and report written.

March 19, 2015 at 5:55 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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A “free” pagoda that cost us millions a few years ago another “free” streetcar (which is technology the world has passed by) next year, that will cost us additional millions and La la, La la, La la skip to my Lou at this rate Detroit here we come.  This chasing of grant dollars for discretionary projects while ignoring infrastructure is the EXACT model that Detroit followed into bankruptcy and make absolutely no mistake about it….Tacoma does not have the political firepower to keep the grant dollars rolling in the way Detroit did while it was sliding into a fiscal hell.  Tacoma’s collapse will be more like the California cities that have failed to manage their finances more recently.

March 19, 2015 at 6:04 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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March 19, 2015 at 7:13 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Anything more than a bumper sticker is probably above your level of comprehension anyway.

March 20, 2015 at 5:18 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I don’t pretend to comprehend to comprehend crazy.

March 20, 2015 at 11:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Anything automobile centric will be doomed in the future and just lead to ruination.
Let’s works towards protecting the environment,our health and safety and saving a
good future for Tacoma.Abandon those anthropocence mobile species extinction death machines (the car).Tacoma deserves better like having funicular public or cargo transport.


March 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I am way out ahead of you, I abandoned “the car” decades ago.  I haven’t owned anything other than a series of F-150 Lariat 4WD SCREWs for quite some time now.  We could not be happier with them too,  might add.

March 18, 2015 at 8:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Using any type of motor vehicle is a fail in numerous ways.

March 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’m trying to figure out how the City of Tacoma can plausibly put “transit” into their master plan.  Pierce Transit has done nothing but cut service hours since I first moved here.  It is so bad now that I can’t get across town in less than 90 minutes because of failed transfers and the 60 minute headways between buses.  Do they plan to ditch PT and create their own transit agency with improved service?  Or are these guys smoking crack?  The system in place is nothing more than a skeleton network for the extremely low income who can’t afford a car and for a lucky few who happen to have a commute that begins and ends on the same bus line with a predictable schedule that accommodates transit hours.

March 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Janet Higbee

The plan is very promising.  The 20 minute neighborhoods where active movement to get errands done, would improve this city so much!

Priority should be made to facilitate safe walking for students to schools and for safe crossings at dangerous intersections like 38th and Steele and 56th and Tacoma Mall Boulevard.

More access to actively cross freeways needs to be ensured, whether on busy roads like 56 th, 72nd and 84 th or with more separate facilities like the pedestrian brides over 16 and I5 near 38 th.

Pearl in the blocks adjacent to 6th is extraordinarily dangerous for all modes.  So much is going on with multiple crosswalks.  Highway 16 access, the Scott Pierson trail nearby, the 11th St. Planned boulevard, regular use by the Tacoma Wheelmen Bike Club and the Morgan YMCA with its ample bike stands bring cyclists to the area.  Make it safe for them here.  Add more islands with native plants, a bike box and protected lanes here.

19th is similar in that cyclists can exit and enter the
Scott Pierson trail, yet it is not safe when traveling to and from downtown.

Priority should early on be given to complete
S. 12 street in the southwest end of town.  This will complement the nice work done on Mildred.

Please depave where potholes and road surfaces are the worst and do so in the east and south side of town so as to green up these areas to to improve air quality.

Areas that have become strip malls could be saved by duplicating what was done on Mildred by TCC…along with the addition of protected bike lanes and the planting of natives.

April 19, 2015 at 6:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Focus exclusively on restoring our failed and failing pavement for ten years and then we can talk about their vision.  Until then… bugger off with any new capital spending plan.

April 19, 2015 at 6:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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syed danish

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July 15, 2018 at 5:26 am / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

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