Obama Budget Includes Link Extension Funding

Here's some potential good news for everyone looking forward to seeing the next phase of the Link built in Tacoma in our lifetimes: the current draft of the Obama administration's 2016 budget includes $74.99 million in Small Starts federal funding for extending the Tacoma Link light rail line.

That $75 million wouldn't cover the full cost of the project, but it would be a significant contribution to funding the project, and Sound Transit and its partners are working on lining up the rest of the funding needed. From the Sound Transit press release (Read the full ST press release here):

"The president said it well in his State of the Union - 21st century growth calls for 21st century infrastructure," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Tacoma Link is a central part of Tacoma's mobility solution, and I urge Congress to adopt this proposal, which will provide a significant share of the funding needed to move this project forward."

Voters approved a potential partnership to expand Tacoma Link in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. Expansion of the 1.6-mile light rail system between the Tacoma Dome and Theater District stations requires partnership funding before the expansion can be built. The 2.4-mile expansion requires approximately $75 million in Small Starts funding, $50 million in ST2 revenues, and $40 million from the City of Tacoma, a key partner in the project. To date, Sound Transit and the City have worked together to secure $13 million in grants for the City's contribution to the project.

This is all, of course, subject to approval by Congress, so, like a shot of mid-range tequila, we're taking the good news with several grains of salt.


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Comments

talus

Great news.  In the post-earmark era, inclusion in the president’s budget is a very important step.

February 3, 2015 at 5:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

5 | 1

chas

So no mention of where this extension will occur?

February 5, 2015 at 6:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Kevin

So no mention of where this extension will occur?

From the full press release

“The alignment would expand the system from the Theater District to the Stadium and Hilltop districts and includes seven proposed stations.”

It would easily extend up the gradual hill of Stadium way, maybe loop on to Division, around the north end of Write park, then turn south into Hill top?

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hilltop,+Tacoma,+WA/@47.2470644,-122.4513017,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x5490556ce73de767:0x750f390797085d42 this is what is considered “Hill Top” by google at least.

It currently has 6 stops going from the Theater district to the train station, so it would be doubling the distance, depending on how they are counting the stations on each side of the road.

February 5, 2015 at 10:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 0

Kevin

found it

http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/link/Tacoma/Tacoma Link Expansion/20140509_TacomaLinkExpansion_map(0).pdf

Apparently the plan that was tentatively made previously was to continue up stadium, turn down 1st, run into division, then turn down MLK. They might adjust it, but that looks like a decent plan as far as I’m concerned. No 6th Ave Drunk-train though…

February 5, 2015 at 11:07 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 0

JDHasty

A whopping 1.7 mile walk (1.1 miles as the crow flies) from the proposed end of the line 19th & MLK to the other end at 25th & McKinley.  An able bodied individual would be able to walk from one terminus to the other in less time than it takes to wait til the next train comes and ride there on this fiasco.  What a sick joke. 

For those of you who need it, here’s the math:

average preferred walking rate for a healthy adult = 3.1 mph
most adults are capable of walking at a rate upwards of 5.6 mph

1.7 miles / 3.1mph = .5484 hours = 32.9 minutes
1.7 miles / 5.6mph = .3036 hours = 18.2 minutes

This proposal will do nothing but suck dollars out of transit that could serve the entire metropolitan Pierce County area with bus routes on almost all major arterial running on headways that make buses attractive to people inclined to utilize public transportation options.

Something to think about.   

February 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 5

Dan

The line is not a good option between the two termini, but it is plenty useful between Tacoma General and the Tacoma Dome; also between Stadium and St Josephs.

You have a very valid point that $150million+ could do some great things for the bus system. I’m generally inclined to agree that you’d get a lot more use for your money.

The problem is public perception. Rail is just so much more attractive to most people. The ST2 funding package needed rail projects to generate enthusiasm and get enough public support to pass.

Undoubtedly this will generate more economic investment in the Stadium District and Hilltop, but if you were looking for the best transportation value, bus system improvements, like more frequent headways, signal priority, etc… would win out easily.

February 5, 2015 at 5:54 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 4

JDHsty

“if you were looking for the best transportation value, bus system improvements, like more frequent headways, signal priority, etc… would win out easily.”

That is the bottom line.  This is not about providing publicly subsidized transportation options available to as many people who reside in the metropolitan Puget Sound region as possible, it isn’t even about providing service to as many people who live in the ST Taxing District (the very people who are paying for Sound Transit) as possible, it is about something else all together.

Advocates for expanding Tacoma Link are NOT advocates for public transportation, they are advocates for the downtown redevelopment zone (a place that so few people find attractive to live that the government must offer tax abatement to people just to get them to consider living there).

The fact of the matter is the case can easily be made (and has been made by sincere advocates concerned about seniors, low income and disabled individuals who don’t happen to live along this very short length of track) that those who advocate for this light rail extension have been in essence advocating against expanding public transportation availability to serve more individuals. 

February 6, 2015 at 9:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 3

JDHasty

“plenty useful between Tacoma General and the Tacoma Dome; also between Stadium and St Josephs”

Practically no one lives in the Dome District, according to the latest US Government census data, and from Stadium District to St Joes Hospital is a 1.2 mile 23.2 minute leisurely stroll or a 12.8 minute brisk walk.  Perhaps you may want to consider better examples, I am just not seeing the cost/benefit ratio being in your favor with the two you cited.

February 6, 2015 at 10:46 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 4

Dan

“Practically no one lives in the Dome District, according to latest census data”

And yet that doesn’t stop thousands of people from riding the link from there every singe day right now. The Dome district is a major link to regional transit. All of those riders, and likely some new ones will have access to Tacoma’s largest private sector employer (MultiCare) as will thousands who live within a short walk of existing stations (residents on the Foss Waterway for example)

I’ve already conceded that this link extension does not provide cost effective service. The fact that it is a bad way to prioritize limited funding for transit in an area where public transportation is badly underfunded is not the same as saying it provides absolutely no utility at all.

There will be thousands of new trips on the link generated by downtown residents who work at or need to visit Tacoma General as well as Stadium District and North Slope residents who work downtown, or want a connection to regional express buses to the Airport and Seattle.

As for this being a bad value, advocate for better projects next time. ST3 is likely to be voted on in 2016. Another thing that should be explored is a Pierce Transit funding initiative that taxes and improves service for Tacoma only, like Seattle recently did with Metro. Tacoma already voted in favor of better transit funding twice, only to be held back by suburbanites.

February 6, 2015 at 4:11 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 1

Terry

I think the current Link train is maybe the most successful mass transit in the State. It lets people park at the Dome and keeps cars from jamming up the Downtown. It’s a simple plan that works.
Expanding the Link and charging money to ride might just kill it off, because the trains won’t run as often and who wants to pay $2 to ride one mile or so? Plus right now real estate speculators (including the City, County and State) are holding on to Hilltop properties that think will be worth $$$$ for yuppie condos when the train comes in. It’s actually hurting Tacoma right now. Gosh, can’t we just get a couple of mini buses to shuttle folks around Proctor? That’s cheap and it makes sense I think.

February 8, 2015 at 7:48 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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JDHasty

Put a fare box on and see how much the current riders value it.

I would bet it loses 75% of its boardings.

We ate dinner and left my vehicle downtown and took my daughter to an event at the Dome and the stupid thing doesn’t even run when Dome events generally let out.  That was no big deal, we took a taxi back to our truck, but what a ridiculous thing it is to not have it serve Dome events.  Particularly since the parking lot is no longer adaquite at the Dome. 

I knowingly left the vehicle knowing that a taxi ride would probably be necissary because it was pouring down rain, but if you have that much invested in an asset doesn’t it make sense to make it available so that traffic congestion around the Dome is mitigated?

February 8, 2015 at 5:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 0

RHTCCComedyfanRegistered

I’ll disagree a lot with your walking rates.
5.6 mph is not walking rather it’s jogging.
I say that an average walking rate is between 2 to 3 miles an hour with no stopping,
2 or less mph being far more likely as the walker has to often stop and wait at intersections with crossing lights to cross a street (Much more likely in downtown Tacoma)

February 7, 2015 at 12:59 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 0

JDHasty

Agreed. 2-3 mph is walking; 5.6 is jogging.

Also agreed that I’d rather see the money spent on buses.  BUT, if it can be spent on the rail or no money at all, I’d rather see it spent on the rail.

Where do you get your information from?  My inclination is you just pull numbers out of your ass that validate your preconceived notions.  I looked the info up in an Engineering Reference Manual.

But that being said, it is not that hard to locate the info on the internet.  Most anybody can do it. 

Preferred walking speed
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The preferred walking speed is the speed at which humans or other animals choose to walk. In the absence of significant external factors, humans tend to walk at about 1.4 m/s (5.0 km/h; 3.1 mph).[1][2][3] Although humans are capable of walking at speeds from nearly 0 m/s to upwards of 2.5 m/s (9.0 km/h; 5.6 mph), humans typically choose to use only a small range within these speeds.[4] Individuals find exceptionally fast or slow speeds uncomfortable.

February 9, 2015 at 8:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 2

Garrett

Agreed. 2-3 mph is walking; 5.6 is jogging.

Also agreed that I’d rather see the money spent on buses.  BUT, if it can be spent on the rail or no money at all, I’d rather see it spent on the rail.

February 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0

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