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Tacoma LINK Alternatives: ... And Then There Were 3
Here’s the latest on the Tacoma Link Light Rail expansion conversation: the list has been narrowed yet again, now down to three possible preferred alternatives.
At this Tuesday’s City Council study session, Sound Transit presented its latest recommendations, assessed on criteria associated with each of six main criteria.
- Improve mobility and transportation access for Tacoma residents and visitors
- Increase transit ridership within the City of Tacoma
- Serve underserved neighborhoods and communities in the City of Tacoma
- Use transit to spur economic development and other types of investments
- Ensure that the project is environmentally sensitive and sustainable
- Establish a project that is competitive for federal funding
A draft chart shows how the six routes compare on those goals and criteria.
DOWNLOAD FULL SIZE (pdf)
Coming out of that process, Sound Transit identified three top routes, which were presented to Council: North End Central (B1), Eastside (C1), and North Downtown Central (E1) (see above map). The Council now needs to consider the alternatives and make a decision on which alternative it prefers. Council members gave some idea as to their priorities, and raised questions as well. At the logistical level, an important question going forward will be how much value is placed on potential future development, and how much on existing ridership potential.
From a funding perspective, it’s clear that whatever project is chosen, it will be important to keep federal grant criteria in mind. Projects are being considered under a $150 million threshold that makes them eligible for a Federal small starts grant, which would bring $50 million from federal funds, and $50 million from Sound Transit, with a remaining $50 million to be raised from partners in the community.
March 14 – Sound Transit Capital Committee Briefing
March 19 – Open House at UWT to present the corridor alternatives evaluation
March 20 – Stakeholder Roundtable to gather input
April 2 – Tacoma City Council Study Session
April 11 – Sound Transit Capital Committee
April 25 – Sound Transit Board
Once the Sound Transit Board has identified a preferred alternative, the next steps will include the environmental review and engineering phases, and a consideration of the chosen corridor on a block-by-block basis to choose the specific streets down which the LINK expansion would run.
As our City Council considers its goals for the LINK expansion, what are your goals? If we’re going to pursue this project, should we be striking off into underdeveloped areas with great potential for growth? Or should we be looking to connect already developed neighborhoods with existing riders? The ultimate pot of gold at the end of the LINK rainbow is the ever tricky “economic development,” but what exactly does that look like?
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