Exit133 is about Tacoma
Link Expansion: Plans Move Forward, Questions Linger
Last year the city council made the official decision to recommend moving forward with plans for a specific route for the expansion of Tacoma's Link light rail. As that plan moves forward, Tacoma's Planning and Transportation commissions have questions and differences of opinion on a few of the choices being made.
The route chosen would take the light rail up the hill from its current northern terminus near 9th and Commerce to the Stadium District, then up Division to MLK, and across through the Hilltop to a new terminus near South 19th and MLK. That alignment comes with seven recommended stations, which were included in the recently completed environmental review.
- Martin Luther King Jr Way & South 19th Street
- MLK & South 11th Street
- MLK & 6th Avenue
- MLK & Division Avenue
- Stadium District
- Stadium Way & South 4th Street
- Old City Hall (Relocated Theater District Station)
The initial environmental review was completed and made available for public comment, and review by Tacoma's Planning and Transportation commissions. As a part of that review, the two commissions returned recommendations that vary somewhat on a couple of those locations.
The Transportation Commission would prefer that the Theater District station stay put where it is now, rather than relocating just up the hill to a location in front of Old City Hall. In a letter to council, the Commission cites the importance of proximity to other transit options at 10th and Commerce. The letter also expresses a desire to prevent the relocated station from "cannibalizing" passsengers from the South 4th location, "which could be incorrectly interpreted as a lack of demand for a station at South 4th" - a station the Commission believes is important stop to be included in the final plans.
The Commission feels strongly that the station location at South 4th & Stadium Way is crucial to the expansion of Tacoma Link. There is an incredible amount of developable land in the vicinity, public access is available in at least 3 pedestrian access corridors between Broadway and Stadium Way within a one-block radius of the future station, and people with limited mobility or ability will not walk uphill to the Stadium District Location or downhill to the Theater District.
Planning Commission comments, on the other hand, include a concern that the Stadium and 4th stop might not be justified due to low ridership expected at that location, and challenges to pedestrian access. If that station does get built, the Planning Commission identifies a need for specific plans and funding to address the steep slope riders will need to negotiate on their way up and/or down South 4th.
Although the Planning Commission isn't sold on the South 4th and Stadium station, they do like the idea of adding an additional station at South 15th and MLK to better serve that neighborhood, in light of quarter-mile walkshed coverage.
The Planning Commission also recommends the establishment of a Link Expansion Design Advisory Committee to help review and advise on stations design and development. Such a committee could be tasked with considering "sense of place" and contribution to the urban fabric - specifically decisions on whether stations should be located curbside or in the median, and how bicycle safety and mobility will work with specific designs.
At this week's city council meeting the council will consider a resolution recommending to the Sound Transit Board of Directors that it move ahead with this alignment and these stations for the expansion of the Tacoma Link line. The project is partially funded by ST2, but the rest of the funding will need to be lined up before it can be built, so there is still time to work out the details.
That said, the number and location of station stops is a fairly important questions here - which answers do you like?
Do you want to help the folks at Exit133 pay our bills and keep up with of all things Tacoma? Do you want to see even more coverage? Exit133 has always been free to read and comment, and it will stay that way. However, over the years, readers have contributed to the bank account to help us keep up our coverage of goings-on around town. Contribute and this message disappears!Support Exit133