by CHRIS KARNES
On Wednesday, the “Build the Streetcar” campaign and the Tacoma City Attorney met to discuss draft ballot language for their citizen’s initiative to extend Tacoma Link. This move signals a go-ahead for a 180-day, 4,000 signature petition drive. This development comes after five years of attempting to use traditional political processes to move the project forward – previously covered on the STB (Tacoma Streetcar on the Slow Path).
The “Build the Streetcar Act” would authorize a 0.2% increase in the sales tax in the City of Tacoma to fund an extension of Tacoma Link from its northern terminus in the city’s Theater District to Tacoma Community College (utilizing a Transportation Benefit District – more on that later). The extension would cover a distance of 8.8 km (5.5 miles), with stops at the Stadium District, Tacoma General Hospital and along 6th Avenue – Tacoma’s most popular transit corridor. The approximately $100 million in funds raised would be added to the ~$80 million in ST2 funds, which voters approved in November 2008. It would require that they City dedicate a staff person as a Transit Director who would be tasked with leading a coordinated effort with Pierce Transit and Sound Transit to make the project shovel ready by November 2011.
Other components of the initiative include creation of a citizen Transit Commission, which would be tasked with overseeing progress on the streetcar extension, while crafting a thirty year transit plan for the city – mirroring current City efforts in Tacoma to improve bike-ped mobility over the next decade.
Initiative petitions will be available at the latest on Monday, March 1st. The campaign kickoff is slated for late March.
More information to available at BuildTheStreetcar.com