Exit133 is about Tacoma
New Amtrak Station at Freighthouse Square
As a part of the re-routing of its Cascades passenger rail service, Amtrak will be relocating its Tacoma station from that
dingy well-used 1980s building on Puyallup Avenue to Freighthouse Square, just up the hill. On Monday Dome District residents and business owners got their first look at plans for the new station - and it wasn't exactly a huge hit.
For starters, the western end of the existing Freighthouse Square building would be knocked down and rebuilt. What they're proposing to put up in its place might follow the basic shape of the historic building, but that's about it. The design follows the shape of the portion of the building that would be knocked down, but takes inspiration from other newer Tacoma structures for its materials - glass and steel.
The 104 year-old wood building has some structural issues that would require a major renovation regardless of plans, in order to be compatible with use as an Amtrak station, according to the Seattle architects working on the project. For starters, columns too close together to accomodate Amtrak baggage equipment, and safety and accessiblity issues relating to sprinkler systems, seismic requirements, and ADA compliance.
The initial design proposal solves the problem by simply knocking down the first 150 feet of the west end of Freighthouse Square, and rebuilding it out of steel and glass. The project design team may have miscalculated the level of attachment to the simple wood structure for many Tacomans. Although it's more than a century old, the station isn't listed on national or state lists of protected structures; that doesn't mean, however, that no one cares about its preservation. The steel and glass update to the section of the building are definitely drawing attention to the project - if not necessarily positive.
Moving the station to Freighthouse Square should expedite travel for rail passengers, and put travelers closer to other transit options. The location is identified in last week's presentation as "the only feasible location." The design, however, sounds like it hasn't found much support in the immediate community. (Read more from the TNT, including Peter Callaghan sharing his opinion). Critiques of the plan reach beyond Tacoma too. The plans are still at the draft phase, which means there's still the possibility of returning to the drawing board.
The City of Tacoma has identified involvement in design of the new station as a priority in its new South Downtown Subarea Plan, scheduled for adoption this week. The project could be wrapping up, with the new station in operation, by 2017. What will it look like?Download Now
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