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No More Amshak for Tacoma

In December, when the Washington Department of Transportation introduced plans for the new Tacoma Amtrak station to be located at Freighthouse Square, public reaction fell somewhat short of enthusiastic support... Okay, who are we kidding? Most of you hated it. It got dubbed the "Amshak," among other insults.

Well, it looks like the Amshak is dead.

The News Tribune reports that WSDOT will be going back to the drawing board to replace original plans for the design that would have called for the western-most 150 feet of Freighthouse Square to be demolished and replaced with a steel and glass train depot.

State officials are saying that the draft images we saw in December were in "very early stages" of the planning process, which they will now look to take in a different direction - one more likely to gain local support. 

Public meetings will be held January 23 and 30 at which WSDOT will take public input to inform a new round of design options. The department hopes to have those new design concepts ready to share sometime in February. And there's talk of bringing in local help with the design.

A citizen advisory group has made recommendations, including that the new station be added at the east end of Freighhouse Square, and that the existing old (but not officially "historic") building not be subject to any exterior demolition. WSDOT seems willing to listen to those suggestions and others.

We'll keep our fingers crossed for a better design option in February... and that the powers that be don't just tell Tacoma riders to learn to tuck-and-roll...

What would you like to see in a new Amtrak station?

Previously on Exit133: New Amtrak Station at Freighthouse Square

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Erik BRegistered

Good news.

Hopefully, this proposed design has now been avoided:

January 14, 2014 at 12:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tim Smith

I like to see it in South Tacoma. There is much that has to be demolished to build a proper station at Freighthouse Square. Keep it as the Sounder Station/Light Rail/Bus Interface.
We just love to pack all our transportation bucks into one area with not much redundancy. This will be like the 4th time we will rebuild this area?

January 15, 2014 at 4:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Multi-modal transit isn’t redundant.  There is no reason to locate one form of transportation next to no others.  The Tacoma Dome Station is the localized transportation location for Tacoma.

January 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tim Smith

Small Cities have one primary terminus -if they are lucky. We had Union Station - hence the name Union. Tacoma is much more than the down town these days. We’ve complete streeted the best access routes out of the pit for light rail/streetcar. We need a second terminus which makes coneectivity sense and allows for redundancy. One fire, one good shaking, a chemical spill in the freightyard and what will be our only transportation hub is out of service. The only major Mixed Use District with commerrecial, industrial, and residential space is in South Tacoma. An investment for the Amtrak/Sounder interface in South Tacoma decreases traffic congestion in the core and provides for a much larger available footprint for the future. There is no room - hence the demolition of a significantly historic transportation history icon. The vast majority of high-speed rail would never locate a new station at the bottom of a hill. They are mostly only found there now because steam trains needed water and water flows down hill. Potential future hardening of rail stations for security reasons make South Tacoma a better candidate with minimal impact on local business when no traffic zones/barricades are emplaced.  The Dome District has yet to recover from the last major transportation project - the Berm. Just a few more reasons to put it in South Tacoma.

January 16, 2014 at 3:21 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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A balance of utility and architectural style is important to me.  The last design was very modernist and reflected nothing of the rail history of our city.  Look to Seattle’s King St. Station and our very own Union Station for architectural inspiration.

I would rather keep the station as close to the light rail station as possible to encourage access to intercity rail as well as visitors to Tacoma. I do not favor moving the proposed location of the station to the eastern side of FHS. No way.

January 15, 2014 at 3:02 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If it was located at the east of Freighthouse Square end passengers disembarking would often walk through the Freighthouse to get to the street car on the west end near D Street.  It might marginally increase the exposure of those merchants while preserving the most visible fa├žade of the building.  Major renovations on the east end would also encourage the development of a platform extension to the east as part of the trestle replacement (a current Sound Transit project), rather than allowing the longer Amtrak trains to block D street.

January 15, 2014 at 7:18 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Freighthouse should be the poster child for what poppycock proponents of transit supporting retail are spouting. These forecasts of transit stations being a retail Mecca are simply hallucinations of academics with no real life data backing their prognostications of retail euphoria surrounding transit hubs.

January 18, 2014 at 11:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Andy LundRegistered

The Lakewood bypass of Pt Defiance is an $89 million mistake fraught with traffic and safety challenges with all the at-grade crossings through Lakewood, just to “save” 10 minutes and lose the magnificent Puget Sound views from the trains. Double track the Bennett Tunnel under Pt Defiance again (lower its floor) to solve the present train capacity problem and forget the 10 minutes. Better and much cheaper.

Absent that, put the station just south of the tracks on the almost vacant land between the tracks, East D, East 26th and East G. Plenty of room for an attractive station plus parking without wrecking Freight House Square.

January 16, 2014 at 3:13 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Do you really think the tunnel could be widened, while keeping all current rail traffic moving?  I would imagine a separate tunnel would have to be dug, or current freight and passenger service would have to be rerouted through Lakewood (which would be much worse for all of those at grade crossings for a year, or two during construction) to keep trains rolling.  And all of it for less than $89 million.  I don’t know about you, but I never hear about any tunneling project coming in under a couple hundred million.  If you have expertise on this particular tunnel and rail road tunnel engineering in general, I’ll concede the point, but less than $89 million just sounds far fetched to me.

As for the spot south of the Freighthouse…  It could work, but I imagine it would also be more costly, because a completely new platform would need to be built, or a sky bridge over the tracks, rather than just extending the current Sound Transit platform.  It would make parking easier though.

January 16, 2014 at 7:50 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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