Tacoma Council Picks Favorite and Least Favorite Routes for Link Expansion

It looks like the A1/B1 route will be chosen as Tacoma's preferred alignment for the future expansion of the Link Light rail.

Following last week's study session discussion, Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution identifying its preference for the route the Link would travel to get out of downtown and up to the Stadium District, before continuing on to the Hilltop. 

The A1/B1 route got the most support from the public, according to Sound Transit's summary of public outreach efforts, with A2/B1 getting some support as well. The recommendation accompanying Tuesday's resolution is that only the first choice route alternative be forwarded for environmental review to save time and money.

The least favorite of the options is also made clear, with the resolution including a request to remove from consideration the A3 and B2 options.

At Tuesday's study session Sound Transit staff presented the results of public outreach efforts, and Council discussed their own preferences and concerns relating to the various route options. Most Council comment was in support of the A1/B1 alignment, with some reservations expressed around the potential for an accessible stop on Stadium Way, preferrably at South 4th. The B1 option got fairly unanimous support.

In Thursday's report to Council, City Manager Broadnax shared responses from Public Works staff on the question of a stop on Stadium Way at 4th. 

  • In terms of ADA accessibility, the stop would be possible, as the grade of Stadium Way around 4th falls under the maximum 2% incline to allow for ADA accessibility.
  • In response to the question of whether the design of Stadium Way would allow for an in-lane stop at that location (or whether traffic would back up onto I-705), the assumption is that it is likely that such a stop could be designed, a complete traffic analysis and traffic counts will be necessary.
  • The question of this stop can be evaluated in the environmental review process.

Another issue brought up related to the accessibility of a stop at this location was the question of whether a hill climb or other improved pedestrian access to navigate the steep slope at 4th would be possible. In response to this question, Broadnax reported that the City could request that such options be considered, but also that funds would need to be identified above what was already being considered for the cost of the project. Pedestrian access at that point would need to include adequate ADA access, which could include pedestrian switch-backs, an elevator, or possibly some sort of an escalator. None of those are cheap - either to construct initially, or to maintain, and it is probable (if not certain) that Sound Transit would leave such funding to the City.

It sounds like there are still some questions to answer, but unless something unexpected happens in the next couple hours, we're probably looking at the A1/B1 Stadium Way/out-and-back on MLK alignment moving forward to the Sound Transit Board, and likely moving on to the environmental review process. We'll have to wait for the answers to questions about a potential Stadium and 4th stop. Would it be a deal-breaker for the route if it's not possible?

Read more previously from Exit133: Link Expansion: Choosing an Alignment.

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I can’t wait to be able to ride from the Tacoma Dome to Division and MLK.  I don’t care if there’s a stop in between the center of the Stadium District and the Theater District—those two stops are good enough for that stretch.  Not ideal if cost was no object, but good enough.

February 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Unless you live in one of the apartment buildings there, there aren’t really any points of interest along Stadium Way. I don’t even find it a very pleasant place to walk or sit because of the constant traffic. Although a stop there might be nice, it doesn’t seem altogether necessary to me. But maybe I’m missing something?

February 5, 2014 at 10:20 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Brandi Riddle

No teri, you’re not missing anything. This is about short term cost and benefit. No one in the Broadway and st Helens area wants to be inconvenienced short term for long term gains. And people just want what is cheapest without taking into account viability. This is not the most sustainable option for the money, at all. If the city can’t afford the best alignment and is just looking for any alignment and the people cant deal with construction then we deserve it.  But I do agree with talus. At least its something and it gets the job done. But we’re missing the opportunity to cater to the people that could really benefit from it. With that little rant being said, I am excited to be able to ride from mlk to downtown.

This whole thing reminds me of what I’m struggling with right now. I really want a house out of my price range but could settle for a cheaper one in an area im just “fine” with. Do I keep saving and get what I know I will really love or do I just buy the cheap one so I can finally just have a house?
I get that the funding is sort of on a time schedule and I know we’re competing with Seattle’s rail for other funds but it just seems irresponsible to me, I guess. I don’t know. Like I said, happy it’s happening at all.  This wouldn’t even be on the table in a state like Texas, where I’m from. Well except austin but that’s different. Sooo…yay?!

February 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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