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Imagine Tacoma – bLINK Extensions
Further to the Tacoma Light-Rail/Street Car Meeting last week, and having recently admired the ‘heights’ of the Sound Transit light-rail structures and stations at SeaTac Airport, imagine an extension of the bLINK up Stadium Way that has multiple urban design consequences:
Old City Hall Station
Relocate the ‘Theatre District’ Station further down the line so disembarking is at the foot of Old City Hall (see Clocks, Gateway, and Suburban Waters) and to lessen the disruption to South 9th Street – which will be important given the next item.
Rail to Ruston
With the removal of the Stadium Way on/off ramp to I-705 (restore the Historic View of Commencement Bay from Pacific Avenue!), the extension of the bLINK allows for a spur line to head along Schuster Parkway to connect Old Town, Ruston Way, Ruston and Point Defiance.
Stadium Way Hillside
This hillside is shifting and the roadway is starting to slough – so why not locate the light rail alongside the right-of-way so that the support structure can be designed to help stabilize the bank as well? This location also allows the light rail grade to be consistent up the hill, removes the congestion to traffic on Stadium Way, and presents a most amazing viewing opportunity for the commuter.
The introduction of a light-rail at the Stadium Corner could result in an urban design catastrophe. In order to make the corner without a side-grade issue, the rail most likely will need to rise prior to the corner – and thus provide a viaduct structure directly next to Stadium High School (not to mention how much it would totally screw-up the loading and unloading of the school buses, etc…). So why not turn the corner at Division and Stadium Way on a higher plane? With the ability to adjust the height of this corner over the long slope of Stadium Way, the rail line can turn the corner nice and flat and meet-up with Tacoma Avenue on-grade (blocking the grain elevator rather than the historic Stadium High School). With this alignment the light-rail can grind-off to a MLK Way Loop and/or head-off down Division to Sixth Avenue, Narrows and Gig Harbor.
But an even better idea may be to terminate the bLINK at Old City Hall and then connect up the Spanish Steps to a Broadway Trolley System – as it would be a much simpler and cost effective way to extend the system (man I wish I had thought of that).
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