Via Tacoma Tomorrow, ST is starting the process to expand Tacoma Link that voters approved in 2008, and is seeking public input in three weeks:

Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
People’s Community Center
1602 S MLK Jr Way, Tacoma
4-7 p.m.
Tacoma Dome Station Plaza (off 25th Street)

The point of this process is to develop the routing alternatives that will be formally studied in the Alternatives Analysis, to begin in October and run through April 2013. More after the jump.

A “stakeholder group” and a Sound Transit consultant have already sketched out some possibilities. The stakeholder report, in 17 concise and well-written pages, brainstormed six corridors, set out clear evaluation criteria, and found that the three northern alignments (red, purple, and orange) scored higher than the others.

Six corridors named by the Tacoma Stakeholder Group.

The criteria emphasized underserved, diverse areas and encouraging economic development in Tacoma’s neighborhoods.

The consultant report named eight corridors, depicted below. Detailed discussion (including cost estimates) begins on the 13th page. Costs are in the low hundreds of millions for each alternative.

Pre-AA Report Corridors

24 Replies to “Tacoma Link Open Houses This Month”

  1. Cost estimates appear to be about $50 million/mile, for low-speed street-running rail in mixed traffic, requiring a one-bay OMF expansion.

      1. And it is a system that is not much faster than walking We should not learn from this—we can do better.

      2. To be fair it’s 10 minutes end to end or 9.6mph. That’s not as good as a 4 min mile but it’s better than world class marathon pace. OTOH, it’s mostly a free shuttle to free parking that costs as much to provide as the tram ride.

      3. World class marathon runners run 26.2 miles in about 2.1 hours, about 12.5 MPH. 9.6 MPH is a bit slower than 6 min/mile — I used to be able to run that pace for an hour straight (and I could still easily beat this train end-to-end), and I’m not exactly world-class.

        Bailo, the reason the short run makes it cheaper is that (a) over a short run you can easily find a stretch without many obstacles and (b) over a short run nobody cares as much if it’s slow.

      4. Are you saying this system is incapable of going faster?

        This is the densest part of Tacoma after all…I presume it could speed up as it leaves that small area as they extend it.

        Or is everyone here being purposefully vacuous because Tacoma LINK exposed Seattle LINK.

  2. IMO, any expansion of Tacoma Link should serve what little density there is in Tacoma…and that would definitely mean the Purple alignment. The Stadium District is as dense as parts Capitol Hill, with LOTS of mid-rise apartment buildings, some as high as 10 stories. 6th Ave is Tacoma’s best mixed-use neighborhood, and a 6th Ave line would also serve Wright Park and be within walking distance of UPS. Extending all the way out to TCC is a stretch, though…the density/mixed-use character dwindles rapidly west of Proctor St.

    The red and yellow alignments could only make sense from a overly generous social justice perspective. Though there is some decent mixed-use potential on Pacific (YELLOW) between downtown and 38th, I don’t think it’s wise to consider making Tacoma Link trains reverse themselves mid-route to serve TDS. And Portland Ave (RED) is an uninspiring SFH area with lots of poverty and one large social housing development.

    1. Absolutely correct on the Red line. You need food and better police protection. How’s about we give you a streetcar instead. The Yellow line however links a huge number of people via the Tacoma Mall. The surrounding area has a lot of affordable multifamily housing. It already serves as overload parking for big events like the Tall Ships festival. You’re right about the potential for development on 38th and it leaves open the potential to connect with South Tacoma Way.

      I can’t see any reason to extend to the north. 6th and Pine in Tacoma is nothing like 6th and Pine in Seattle! If you want to bring people into downtown to spend money, something Tacoma desperately needs, it would be criminally insane to bypass the Tacoma Mall for any of the other routes.

      1. Highest ridership in Tacoma is 1 and 11. The Purple Line is where the routing should go. It also has the greatest opportunity for TOD. Tacoma Mall does not. At least not for the next 40 years.

      2. Why is the development pattern for the next 40 years going to reverse what’s happened in the last 40 years?

  3. I like the purple alignment the best too. This route would also make it possible for a lot of pedestrians and cyclists to reach Sounder, 590X etc. without having to conquer a serious hill coming out of DT Town.

  4. The Purple (6th Avenue) and Orange (Martin Luther King Jr. Way) lines are those with the greatest level of popular support in Tacoma. There is a lot of support on the City Council for Martin Luther King Jr. Way because of sheer square footage of vacant land, potential for TOD and proximity to large medical centers like St. Jospeph. However, the 6th Avenue corridor would pass through some of the densest, most walkable mixed use area in the city.

    What I hope to see come out of this analysis is a move to potentially double-track routing south of UW Tacoma by creating a couplet on Puyallup Avenue that intersects with Pacific. That way we make it easier to run more trains more frequently.

  5. But the purple would need to be connected to the other line somehow. Personally, I like the orange line.

    1. If you look closely, both the orange and purple lines start at the existing northern terminus and then head up the hill at Division.

      The Purple Line is clearly the best. You can see the potential for a future network, though, by having one line from 6th Ave–Current Alignment–Red Area and a second for the Orange/eastern Green/Yellow areas (you could also switch the other sides of each line).

      1. Right, the brown section is combined routing that takes you up Stadium Way to Tacoma General Hospital. I agree with you that Purple allows for the greatest amount of extension – setting up a terminal point of Tacoma Community College to the West and allowing for a branch point down Orange to MLK.

      2. The “brown section” routing through the Stadium District — the shared part of the Blue, Purple, and Orange routes — seems like a clear winner. And requires no branching.

        I’m not sure about the rest, but is there some way to rush the environmental documentation on the “brown section” and get it built?

  6. I don’t think the Green line is physically within the capability of a tram. I know that west of Union on 19th is a veritable cliff as it goes past Bellarmine. And really there’s no reason to stop. It serves two high schools and a Fred Meyer. Maybe golfers at Allenmore will use it?

    1. Correct; per the report, a cut-and-cover tunnel would be required to get up the hill from Union Station. The likely solution would be an extension built off Orange. Final destination for Green is Tacoma Community College in the vicinity of 19th & Mildred.

      1. Well, Union isn’t anywhere near Union Station but the Allenmore stop would probably be named Union Station. ;-) West of Union on 19th is really steep plus it’s about the same grade going back down from Bellarmine to Foss. I was thinking DT was pretty steep too but just not as familiar with those streets. So, if it’s in a tunnel that means no stops in the only area where there’s any density or else uber expensive underground stations. What an incredibly silly waste of money for a system that gets less than 4k boardings per day when it’s free.

  7. This should be music to the ears of those who want to stop Central Link’s southward expansion: “Regional transit connections, especially to SeaTac Airport,
    are critically important to the Tacoma community. However, given the long term phasing
    of such a project (ST2 only contemplates an expansion of Central Link to the
    Redondo/Star Lake area of Federal Way), the group agreed that the priority should be
    on a Tacoma Link expansion that serves the people of Tacoma in the near term.”

    I favor putting rail first in the areas that are already the most robust in terms of mixed use and frequent buses, as opposed to underdeveloped “expansion areas”. That rewards the neighborhoods that already have reduced car use, and leads to even greater use of transit and more people moving into those areas, and other neighborhoods clamoring for the same thing. That’s a good way to break the NIMBY barrier in other neighborhoods. Central Link has several proven-transit areas (Capitol Hill, U District) and a few expansion areas (Othello, Spring District, 185th). That’s a reasonable mix.

    Some people prefer lines in mostly expansion areas, arguing that it’ll spur more economic development and density, and that already-dense areas can’t densify much further so upgrading their transit to rail is a waste. Wrong! The problem with that is, it’ll have disappointing ridership for a decade, and the development may never happen if developers later give up on those districts.

    6th Avenue seems like the best place for the next line, and I’m surprised the line stops at Pine rather than going to Proctor (and eventually Jackson). Surely that’s a mistake, when the MLK/19th line goes to Mildred? On the other hand, if the MLK/19th line is built, at least it’ll be within walking distance of 6th Ave, although a 15-minute walk pushes people’s tolerance.

    Extending Tacoma Link to Federal Way would be hilarious. Avoid the controversy of extending Central Link by extending Tacoma Link instead. That’s almost as funny as a streetcar going through Fife. Will Tacoma promise TOD on these “vacant industrial” parcels? Or does Tacoma have a plan to capture those manufacturing jobs if SODO is upzoned to residential? (Although, to be sure, the Interurban was essentially a streetcar in its size and speed.)

    1. Have you ever lived in Tacoma? Like I said in another post… “6th and Pine in Tacoma is nothing like 6th and Pine in Seattle!” Really, it’s single family housing, a few pubs, pawn shops, etc. and it’s been that way for 50 years. The Tacoma Mall area however has seen virtually all of the retail expansion in the City and is surrounded by large MF developments. If you want to inject a shot of life into Tacoma’s DT on life support go to the Mall. It’s a bonus that it runs through the Lincoln Park area so you serve the social justic side of the equation too.

  8. I know next to nothing about Tacoma, and I don’t think that I have enough knowledge to provide useful input. What I do think, however, is that an extension of Tacoma Link should serve the densest areas of Tacoma with good frequency.

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