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Transportation Commission Picks Favorite Link Alignment
At tomorrow's study session the Tacoma City Council will discuss which specific route or routes it prefers for the future expansion of Tacoma's Link Light Rail.
We already know the preferred corridor for the expansion connects the existing 1.6 miles of Link tracks to the Stadium District, before looping around to the Hilltop. Tacoma must now identify which alignment, including specific streets and intersections, it would like to see the Link travel along to get there. The preferred alignment(s) will be sent to Sound Transit, for consideration; Sound Transit will then send its top choice(s) to the next phase for state and federal environmental review.
Recommendation from Tacoma's Planning Commission and Transportation Commission were included in last week's City Manager's report to Council. The Planning Commission refrained from choosing a specific route, instead giving Council a short list of factors it views as critical to the selection of an alignment.
- The best opportunity to maximize economic development, stimulate urban revitalization, and incentivize transit-oriented development along the corridor
- The least amount of disruption to the urban fabric (land use, urban design, infrastructure), urban lifestyles (commercial, educational, cultrual, and recreational activities), and capital investments already made for the Link
- Be consistent with the Hilltop Subarea Plan, and a genuine reflection of the community's vision and development goals for the Hilltop area. This includes the Subarea Plan vision of a multi-modal transportation system, including the Link on a two-way alignment on MLK, reaching the entire district.
- Practicality and ease of accessibility to transit stations, as a key influencer of ridership.
The Transportation Commission was more decisive in its recommendation, placing its support squarely behind the A1 Stadium Way and B1 MLK (without the J Street couplet) alignments.
The relatively new commission notes in its recommendation of the A1 alignment that, while it views that route as meeting most of the community's needs, pedestrian accessibility challenges inherent in this alignment will need to be addressed, and urges Sound Transit and the City to work to mitigate those challenges. In selecting the B1 MLK alignment, the commission notes that it sees this choice as the most cost-effective, and having the best potential for future expansion. The commission further emphasizes the importance of extending the MLK portion of the expansion all the way to South 19th, in order to fully serve the full community, and reach the 19th Street transportation corridor.
Both commissions call the Link expansion "one of the most significant transportation projects" in the area. These aren't final decisions, and we'll have a better idea of what the Council thinks coming out of tomorrow's study session, but what do you think?
Does A1/B1 work for you? Are there other factors you'd like the Council to consider?
Previously from Exit133: Link Expansion: Choosing an Alignment
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