Scott Hingst (CC- Flickr)
Downtown Tacoma – Scott Hingst (Flickr)

This is the first in a series of summaries of Sound Transit 3 jurisdictional feedback letters. Future installments will be South King, East King, North King (minus Seattle which we’ve already covered), Snohomish, and Stakeholder Organizations. 

City of Lakewood

Lakewood’s letter is much as you’d expect, with a strong focus on intra-Pierce County projects. Given the strong asymmetry of its commute patterns relative to the broader region – Lakewood being a South Sound bedroom community whose residents primarily commute even further south toward Joint Base Lewis-McChord – Lakewood focuses on connecting its residents to JBLM and then only secondarily to the regional system.

To this end, the letter asks for a completed spine to Tacoma, planning for a light rail extension beyond Tacoma Mall to Lakewood, Sounder to Dupont via a new transit center in Tillicum, longer Sounder cars, more Sounder frequency, more bi-directional Sounder trains, BRT from the Link terminus to JBLM, and the transfer of all maintenance and security costs at Lakewood Station from the city to Sound Transit.

Commentary: Given the location of the Sounder maintenance yard just north of Lakewood Station and lacking a plan for DuPont storage tracks, Sounder service to DuPont would likely involve deadheading trains, providing an opportunity for reverse commute service from Lakewood to DuPont for little marginal cost beyond the extension itself. Of course, without strong last-mile connectivity to sprawling JBLM (a military base that at 87,000 acres is 61% larger than the City of Seattle), any fixed-route transit plans will inevitably underperform. Lakewood’s requests for either I-5 or Pacific Highway BRT are most welcome, and would require little beyond frequency boosts and HOV/Transit lanes from the Pierce County line to Thorne Lane (and eventually to Olympia).

City of Tacoma

Tacoma’s letter uses strong growth projections to argue for completing the spine, including 127,000 new residents by 2041, or roughly 40% population growth. (For reference, in the previous 25 years Tacoma grew by 16%).

Over the past two decades, Tacoma has seen a significant renaissance, with substantial reinvestment in the downtown and increased growth and vitality in the city’s eclectic neighborhoods. Recognizing Tacoma’s role in the region, the Puget Sound Regional Council designated Tacoma as a Metropolitan City, serving as Pierce County’s civic, cultural and economic hub and a focal point for future population and employment growth. Through our Comprehensive Plan update and subarea planning, Tacoma is ready to accommodate 127,000 new residents and 97,000 new jobs over the next 25 years. This is a role that we Tacomans have embraced.

From these growth projections, Tacoma (via Mayor and ST Board Vice Chair Marilyn Strickland) asks “first and foremost” for completion of the spine from Federal Way to Tacoma Dome, and to do so via Interstate 5. Tacoma also support “expanding the frequency and quality of Sounder service” and a Tacoma Link extension to Tacoma Community College (TCC). The letter is skeptical of Sound Transit’s TOD analysis for Tacoma Link, saying “there is significant potential beyond what is outlined in the Sound Transit scoring”, and Tacoma asks for a reevaluation of both Tacoma’s growth potential and the high cost estimates for its projects.

Commentary: Though the City of Destiny seems, well, destined for the completed spine given the regional consensus and Boardmember Strickland and McCarthy’s positions of prominence, the most interesting portion of the letter to me is Tacoma’s bullishness on its own population growth. Since 1990, Tacoma grew by 16% (from 174k to 202k), whereas Seattle grew by 28% (from 516k to 662k). While there have been rumblings of a residential exodus to Tacoma in reaction to Seattle’s high prices, there has been little evidence to date of large scale defections and Tacoma’s economy is still widely held to be weak relative to its peers. Yet of all the suburban cities, Tacoma does stand on its own as having the bones of a real city despite decades of sprawl-driven neglect. So what should Tacoma get in terms of transit?

In different times, we might be able to argue for Tacoma light rail as intra-Tacoma projects for its own benefit as a city, rather than as the weak tail of a regional spine. But that’s not where we are. Tacoma’s leadership is adamant that a ~70 minute trip to Seattle will be worth it, alongside the benefits of all-day Sounder and competitive connections to SeaTac to lure convention traffic. Since, like East King, Tacoma and Pierce have money to spend relative to their needs, I have a hard time begrudging their desire for a reliable (if slow) all-day connection to the relatively more prosperous region. But as I’ve argued before, the success of these investments lies in the intermediate trips they enable, and to that end an I-5 alignment from Des Moines to Tacoma is disappointing at best.

Fife, Puyallup, Sumner, and the Puyallup Tribe after the jump…

City of Fife

The little city that could, Fife has long stood out at the only Pierce County city favoring an SR-99 alignment for Link, going so far as to speculatively rezone its currently bleak industrial landscape for high density residential development. Fife’s letter supports Link from Federal Way to Tacoma along SR 99, and asks for early agency integration to ensure that a potential SR 167 extension doesn’t negatively impact Link.

City of Puyallup

Unsurprisingly, Puyallup’s letter primarily asks for more Sounder trips and longer Sounder cars. The letter also asks for BRT style investments connecting to South Hill via SR 161, which like most of unincorporated Pierce County currently exemplifies a particularly thoughtless kind of regional sprawl. Finally, Puyallup throws a bone to Orting, indirectly supporting that city’s request for high capacity transit to Puyallup, by far the worst performing among Sound Transit’s candidate projects.

Commentary: Puyallup is a Sounder success story, the place where Sounder ridership is 2nd highest (next to Kent) and where its time advantage relative to bus transit is greatest (20-30 minutes faster than Route 578). I am surprised that Puyallup has not asked for service pattern variations, namely express or skip-stop trains that could improve its time advantage even further. (Such express trains already run during Seahawks games.)

Though a completed regional spine only indirectly benefits Puyallup, it would potentially enable better airport trips via a connection in Federal Way. Otherwise, using ST3 funds to improve Pierce Transit Route 495 seems like a poor investment given the transit-hostile sprawl of South Hill. But again, with Pierce having money to burn there are worse things to spend money on than improving bread and butter arterial transit, especially with an electorate that is hostile to the local agency.

City of Sumner

Sumner’s letter is a relatively unserious contribution, asking for commuter rail to Orting while opposing any new bus connections to the current Sounder station on the grounds that buses would impede vehicular travel. The letter does state, however, a defensible preference for hourly all-day Sounder instead of lengthened cars during peak periods.

Pierce Transit

Pierce Transit’s letter goes all in with support for Link to Tacoma Mall, expanded Sounder hours and capacity, Auburn Station Access improvements, and Tacoma Link’s extension to TCC. However, the letter states the agency’s “top priority” is a capital contribution toward’s Pierce Transit’s flagship local bus service, Route 1 on Pacific Avenue:

However, the top priority for Pierce Transit in 2016 is still Project No. S-12 – Bus Capital Enhancements for Speed, Reliability, and Convenience along Pacific Avenue/SR 7 (Tacoma)… the inclusion of this project in ST3 would be a capital contribution which is envisioned as a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route along the corridor. We feel strongly that a Pierce Transit and Sound Transit partnership would meet the region’s desire for transit agencies throughout the Puget Sound Region to integrate and coordinate service delivery [and] project development…the inaugural Pierce Transit BRT route would provide service along a 14-mile portion of the corridor currently served by Route 1, which accounts for two million annual boardings, 19% of all Pierce Transit fixed route boardings. [emphasis mine]

Puyallup Tribe of Indians

The Puyallup Tribe’s letter supports an I-5 alignment for the Link spine in order to enable stops nearer to Portland Avenue and the Emerald Queen Casino.

91 Replies to “Pierce County’s ST3 Letters”

  1. Nephew goes to UW Tacoma. Have you been to this area? The vacant lots heading up the hill remind me of a recent visit to Detroit. By most accounts the city is broke, but it does have some good bones.

    Ah, the folly of regional transit planning that panders to auto oriented suburbs and expensive park and rides. This is the best way?

    1. Ruby, from the first time I saw Tacoma 40 years ago, the place has always looked like one of those movies keep talking about where there’s a clean. modern downtown and a great scenic view of Mt. Rainier. With absolutely nobody in it.

      An urban freeway system, a streetcar line, a terrific art museum, great history museum a university campus- where there are some people certain hours of the day. But…did the Aliens kidnap those people, put them in a different dimension, or eat them…without leaving a tip!

      Reason I think space creatures or the magnetic fields that Mt. Rainier really does affect maritime navigation with is that the only reason Detroit doesn’t looks like the Soviet missile command walked over it is that no enemy could do that much damage.

      But not only is Downtown Tacoma not in ruins, but one of the nation’s cleanest and sharpest Downtowns. So my guess is that the gorgeous dark-robed evil girl in “Sleeping Beauty” put Tacoma to sleep. So, we got anybody sharp, cute, and well-dressed in any LINK driver’s cab? Put up a bulletin at Operations and Maintenance to check around.

      Mark

  2. One thing worth noting with regard to the prospect of all-day Sounder service one day replacing the 594. The all-day 594 today runs ever 30 minutes or better, with 20-minute frequency a good chunk of the midday on weekdays. Even if Sounder is close enough to the 594 in travel time, an hourly level of service would be a significant downgrade relative to the 594 we already have. Sounder would have to run at least every half hour to serve as a true replacement, but the trains are so big that half-hourly trains all-day would mean mostly empty trains. Perhaps if Sounder had its own track, it would finally become legal to run Sounder with smaller trainsets during the midday so that half hourly service could actually match demand.

    1. I was under the impression that ST was planning on adding a 3rd track which would allow them to reduce headways to 20 minutes (which is reasonably competitive against 594). In addition I also thought I read here that with recent (or soon coming) changes in regulations DMUs would be allowed which would give you better capacity matching for mid-day or evening 20 minute frequencies.

      1. The railroad has had busy bees working to this end (or at least that’s how it appears) in Tukwila all winter. A bridge to accommodate a third track was constructed over Longacres way in the last few months.

        While DMUs are great, I have to wonder about capital cost recovery prospects. Are the financials of running DMUs just that much better over their useful life to be competitive with an existing fleet of locomotives and passenger cars? (Does this owe a lot to the absurd cost structure ST is currently subjected to with BNSF?)

      2. The economics of operating DMU depends on what you are allowed to do.

        Keep in mind that in Europe, what we call light rail cars are operated on the main line there. The Siemens S70 and its derivatives used in Portland is operated in regional services on main lines. The Alstom “light rail car” intended for Ottawa is used by French national railway SNCF on regional services just like we would operate a light rail train – except they do so on the main lines when necessary or desirable.

        So, DMU (or EMU for that matter) could save you quite a lot of money over the long run if you were allowed to operate it just like you would a light rail train and with “light rail” equipment (that the rest of the world considers adequate for use on the main line).

        There was a demonstration project with the New Jersey RiverLINE a couple of years ago. This line uses what in North America would be considered diesel powered light rail cars, but they operate on a freight railroad. Currently, this is only allowed by what is called “temporal separation” as the line operates as a light rail line during certain hours and then after passenger operating hours are over the freight is allowed to operate. This means that both freight and passenger service has some severe limitations because of the need to “convert” the line from freight to “light rail” and back again each day.

        The idea with the test was that there is some thought that with the installation of PTC signals now required, they should be able to intermix “light rail” trains and regular North American freight equipment.

        It seems to indicate that the FRA is willing to consider intermixing regular main line service and light weight equipment. Currently, they have already allowed a waiver for CalTrain in the Bay Area to operate with light weight commuter equipment that is legal for European main lines, but only with limitations.

        At the very least, it indicates that light weight DMU service should be possible from Tacoma south to DuPont, since that line is only used for occasional freight service and the rest of the line is going to be passenger only – much like the line over which CalTrain operates.

        The big problem is going to be what the BNSF allows on its main lines, and that will likely be the current Sounder equipment for now.

        This is quite unfortunate because many areas of Sounder service could be operated more economically with this “diesel light rail” equipment.

        The other problem is some of the Sounder costs have nothing to do with equipment costs. There is a fair amount of staff that guards the stations, and the trains require multiple crew members (in Europe the light weight equipment operates with a single operator just like a light rail train would). There is also the cost that BNSF charges for access to the line to begin with.

        So, the cost of operating a DMU could be vastly cheaper than the current Sounder stock, but under the current operating environment on the BNSF main line it probably won’t be, because a significant part of the cost isn’t based on the equipment being operated.

      3. Thanks for the info, Glenn. I was just reading about the River Line. It is quite unusual, in that it serves very small cities. Camben and Trenton aren’t that big, although the population density in parts of Trenton is very high, and Camben is no slouch (and across the water from Philly). I ran across the River Line because I was curious if any other city of fits size (Tacoma/Lakewood) had built light rail. Very few, is the short answer. But what caught my eye was the idea of “light rail” sharing room with existing freight (which explains how it got built in the first place — on the cheap). Thanks for explaining the technical details.

      4. I’ve been trying to put together a page2 post using numbers from a feasibility study done for a proposed rail line in Santa Cruz County, CA. The Santa Cruz study compares operating and start-up costs for a number of possibilities, including a locomotive + 2 passenger cars consist (loco+2) and a Stadler GTW DMU set. The study concludes that the DMU would be cheaper to operate. For Santa Cruz County, the study projects that a loco+2 consist would cost $15,700,000 annually for operations and maintenance while a DMU set would cost $11,400,000. So the DMU costs about 73% as much as a loco+2 consist. But there are some other factors to consider.

        First, the Stadler DMU is not fully compliant with FRA crashworthiness standards are it’s doubtful that non-compliant vehicles would be allowed on BNSF tracks between Seattle and Tacoma. Second, I don’t know of any compliant DMU that can serve low-level stations. If ST chooses a high floor DMU it will be necessary to build high level platforms to serve the DMUs, which is likely a deal breaker. So, for all day service between Seattle and Tacoma, it’s likely that the vehicles will have to be loco+2 or nothing.

        Here’s the link to the Santa Cruz study: http://sccrtc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RailTransitStudy_FullDoc.pdf

      5. San Diego Trolley was built that way too, and until 1985 or so I think was allowed to share track with the local freight trains operated by San Diego and Arizona Eastern. At some point the FRA decided this was a bad idea and the concept of temporal separation happened. “What happens if there is a collision?”

        Well, in the rest of the world, the idea is to keep trains from colliding in the first place…..

      6. Second, I don’t know of any compliant DMU that can serve low-level stations. If ST chooses a high floor DMU it will be necessary to build high level platforms to serve the DMUs, which is likely a deal breaker.

        Depends a bit on what sort of acceleration you are willing to tolerate.

        The 90 mph Nippon-Sharyo DMUs that they have on the Toronto airport line are high floor and FRA compliant (the only one currently being made that is). They are 760 hp
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nippon_Sharyo_DMU

        That 760 hp doesn’t give you enough power to pull a 100 car train, but you could pull one of the existing Bombardier coaches with one.

      7. Those NipponSharyo vehicles look to be high level cars. The link says they were ordered by SMART– which I know is a high level system–so I don’t think they would work for Seattle-Tacoma unless ST wants to rebuild the station platforms for high level trains.

        This is just a guess, but I think that in order to meet the crash safety requirements, the cars basically have to built on top of an I-beam that running from bumper to bumper which is difficult to fit into a low level vehicle.

        ________

        One other thing to consider when deciding between a loco+2 consist or the DMU is projected ridership. The DMU capacity is about 100 passengers (seated) while a loco+2 can easily seat over 200 passengers.

      8. Yes, the Nippon-Sharyo DMUs are high floor cars. However, if you pull one of the existing Bombardier coaches with them that can be your low floor car. You wind up operating service the way Portland light rail trains operate when high floor and low floor cars are intermixed.

        Except, you can tell from a long way away what car will be the low floor car.

        The current arrangement spreads 3,000 horsepower among 8 cars, plus locomotive weight. That’s only 375 horsepower pulling each coach, neglecting the power needed to move the locomotive dead weight.

      9. The FRA is the worst thing for rail in this country, all their pointless rules accomplish is make rail more difficult and expensive to do in this country and drive (literally) people and goods to highways which kill exponentially more people. All in the name of safety. The FRA is a joke.

    2. Problem is that the 594 covers only a single station pair: Tacoma to Seattle, which would indeed suffer if completely replaced by 60-minute Sounder service. I would guess that 30-minute service all day would soothe sore feelings pretty quickly, further soothed by any express/limited service. There are last-mile problems at both ends, but Tacoma Link and any of the dozens of transit options at King St. Station ought to suffice.

      All of the other stations along the line would benefit from all-day Sounder service, though. (When was the last time you dreamed that the best way to get from Kent Station to downtown Seattle was the 150? Right, me neither.) And I’m not sure about your argument about trainsets there, either. Unless Sounder purchases DMUs, the marginal cost of carrying an extra passenger car must be close to zero.

    3. But then we are building a billion dollars worth of rail ROW to replace a bus that currently gets you from Tacoma to Seattle as fast as driving.

      1. Faster than driving alone. Really fast if they changed the HOV2 to HOV3. Unless the rail ROW allowed high speed (over 80 MPH by my guess) and express service (as the bus does) the fastest way to get from Tacoma to Seattle is to run on a bus in an HOV 3 lane. The freeway is just a lot more of a direct route.

      2. No we aren’t. Driving off-peak takes half an hour. The 594 takes 53 minutes (Tacoma Dome to Westlake at noon). Sounder takes an hour. The worst peak driving times may be slower than that, but most of the time driving is significantly faster.

        The third Sounder track and other improvements could allow it to run at 90mph, which could shave the travel time down to a more respectable 40 minutes maybe. But there’s still no price for that, or deal, or concrete time estimate.

        Regarding DMUs, nobody seems to notice that ST’s existing trainsets are fairly new, and it has enough of them for ST2’s “almost hourly” goal. I think it has enough for full hourly service. So it’s unlikely to buy DMUs on top of that so soon.

        Half-hourly service would be wonderful but it would also be hugely expensive. Let’s get full hourly service first, and then we can worry about increasing it.

      3. Driving between Tacoma Dome and Westlake takes 37 minutes according to Google Maps. The bus time is estimate and in my experience, off peak tends to be 50 minutes or under.

        So again, a billion dollars to shave 10 minutes off a route that currently works just fine. I wouldn’t expect it any earlier than 2030 if it was set in motion tomorrow.

      4. And not to downtown Tacoma, to Tacoma Dome. Then you most likely (at least by what we are hearing) have to transfer to the “dinky” to go Downtown.

      5. poncho: … because of Tacoma’s geography. If downtown Tacoma were in-line with Fife, there would be no question of Central Link having a downtown station. Also, Tacoma and Pierce have not asked for it to go to downtown.

    4. If Sounder really ran all-day at the same frequency as the current 594, I would consider myself satisfied. Reliability would certainly be much better than the 594 (even on weekends, a traffic snarl around the JBLM or downtown Tacoma makes the current 594 20 minutes late for Tacoma->Seattle trips) and Tacoma Link could provide a timed connection to the downtown Tacoma stops the 594 currently serves directly. Eliminating the downtown Tacoma slog would also speed up Lakewood->Seattle trips considerably. It would also be a significant upgrade over the 150 and 578 for the stops along the way.

      The issue is that I’m somewhat skeptical that all-day Sounder frequency matching that of the current 594 is likely to happen. Even if Sound transit built a 3rd track, they would still be somewhat dependent on BNSF-owned tracks, since even hourly frequency is impossible with both trains running on one track. Which means that every trip still means a boatload of bribe money to BNSF, and it still means that FRA regulations kick in, requiring 8-car trains to carry the passenger load of a 1-car train. Throw in the fact that a bunch of money is likely to be siphoned off building large parking garages, extending the line to DuPont, and increasing peak-hour frequency (which means buying a whole bunch of extra trainsets to just to make one round trip per day), it sounds almost inevitable that off-peak frequency is going to suffer.

      One service that I’m thinking of in comparison to Sounder is the CalTrain, down in San Francisco. It serves many more stops than Sounder does, many of which are in actual urban areas, rather than P&R’s in the middle of nowhere. The corridor is paralleled by 20 lanes of freeway. They have no ST express service, so the CalTrain is the only option to travel the 70-mile south bay area (besides a local bus down El Camino Real that stops every 1/4 mile the whole way). And, yet, outside of the peak period, the CalTrain still doesn’t run better than hourly.

      The difference between half hourly service and hourly service is huge, and I’m afraid that people are so busy thinking about train vs. bus that nobody’s going to be thinking about half hourly vs. hourly frequency until it’s too late and the budget’s been allocated.

      1. requiring 8-car trains to carry the passenger load of a 1-car train

        North Sounder runs on 2 cars plus a locomotive, and for mid-day service I don’t see why you couldn’t use shorter sets on the south line.

      2. Reliability would certainly be much better than the 594 (even on weekends, a traffic snarl around the JBLM or downtown Tacoma makes the current 594 20 minutes late for Tacoma->Seattle trips) and Tacoma Link could provide a timed connection to the downtown Tacoma stops the 594 currently serves directly.

        I guess I would just as soon replace the Tacoma to DuPont buses with RiverLINE style DMU and have timed transfer at Tacoma Dome to everything else. 8 car trains don’t need to run to DuPont. That would give a nice higher speed alternative to the traffic suck south of Tacoma, and keep the buses going on I-5 for now.

    5. Frequently looking, up close and personal, at I-5 between Olympia and Seattle- and by report all the way to Everett, I think it’s worth whatever it takes to get regional service off I-5. Without ramps, barriers, and total transit possession, diamond lanes mean little and schedules less.

      Whatever its current condition, upgrading the present railroad past Lakewood, across the Nisqually River a few miles south of I-5 to the existing station at Lacey. So from the southeast edge of Metropolitan Olympia, an express bus would take 15 minutes’ max to the Transit Center downtown.

      In the face of the 100% daily and permanent blockages from I-5 to Olympia- what is that, about a hundred miles?- it might be faster, cheaper, and much less disruptive to put an electric railroad the whole length. When ST3 is finished, really hard part will already be done. Light rail Tacoma, also might also be good if it can run streetcar to the south city line before heading south faster.

      BRT into JBLM: finally someplace wide and flat enough for it. But considering how fast population is spreading outward from Seattle, I wouldn’t count on anything south of Seattle being either empty or unbuilt in less than ten years. So the faster transit even gets started down there, the better the chance that present patters won’t become too big, scattered, and permanent for transit ever to work.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Is it really growing that fast outside Seattle? Last time I checked, most of the growth was in the city. I mean literally more than half. That was a comparison of cities, which included smaller ones, like Lakewood. It is possible that some of the unincorporated areas are growing faster, but I doubt it. In terms of absolute number (as opposed to percentages) most of the growth is happening in Seattle, with Bellevue second.

    6. If you replaced the 594 with Sounder without any intermediate stops, than a full sounder consist would be overkill. However with the intermediate stops, termination of the 578 bus service south of Federal Way, a typical Sounder consist would actually make sense. Also, by using existing equipment you are saving on capital costs of purchasing trainsets specifically for mid-day, and if you use a full trainset you save on the costs of switching the consist to shorten it for a mid-day run. And honestly, I don’t think it makes much of a difference in-between 2 locomotive hauled cars or 8 on a particular train, most of your costs will remain the same as it still requires the same amount of staffing to run the service.

    7. Rt. 594 and Sounder services aren’t interchangeable. The schedule times from Tacoma to Seattle are 46 minutes for the bus and 59 minutes for Sounder. When the freeway is traffic jammed, Sounder is probably a better choice, but when it’s not, the bus is a significantly faster ride.

      1. But, Roger… sudden shift hardly ever comes in a way that lets buses out of traffic. However, wondering what’s behind sudden uptick in “mechanical issues” making morning Sounder late more and more. Anybody got any info?

        Mark

  3. Though a completed regional spine only indirectly benefits Puyallup, it would potentially enable better airport trips via a connection in Federal Way.

    For better airport connectivity with Sounder, there should be a synchronized bus transfer at Tukwila. The current half hour it takes to travel on two different RapidRide routes to get from the Tukwila Station to the airport really doesn’t work that well for anyone.

    Straighten RapidRide F at Tukwila Sounder Station, saving each and every trip time. Use the saved service hours for a several times per day express connecting Sounder and Amtrak Cascades trains to SeaTac.

    1. Ross, trust me. I really wish the new condition of the recent farm behind me was only an illusion, instead of the bad dream that seems to be recurring all the way around Olympia. And the rubber-tired linear parking lot all the way up I-5 to Seattle and beyond was actually an Interstate highway five years ago.

      And Glenn, you might want to check out the light rail line in Karlsruhe, Germany that indeed runs street tracks through downtown, and then picks up freight right-of-way for a fair distance. Something I think could be a very popular “draw” in the development I’d like to see through the window behind me, instead of what’s really there.

      Because I really think that the best way to re-pattern our region away from mall parking and back to forests and fields is to create towns with built-in electric rail with fair number of advantages cars presently used to have until they all got stuck in traffic.

      https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=germany+light+rail+running+freight+tracks&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-003

      Mark

    2. I was thinking a contract could be worked out with the port, to expand the current Rental Car Shuttle service to extend past the RCF to TIBS and Tukwila Station. Since those vehicles are configured to handle luggage better than RapidRide, plus providing Amtrak and even ST riders a connection to the RCF should they need to rent an automobile (I understand it can be difficult to rent a car outside normal business hours outside of a major airport)

      1. I’m not sure what the point would be of having a shuttle fleet go between the airport and TIBS. Doesn’t Link already do that. Link’s 2-minute travel time seems hard to beat in a shuttle bus.

      2. For riders (Especially Amtrak) to get from Tukwila Station directly to the RCF and Airport without having to make a convoluted set of transfers and schlepping luggage from mode to mode to mode and finally to the airport. Not to mention for the convenience and ease of use for out-of-towners. I find the area in-between Sea-Tac and TIBS a transit black hole, where everything either serves one station, and not the other, and your connecting bus or destination is ALWAYS at the other station.

    3. ST3 options include a Boeing Access Rd station for both Sounder and Link. That would make SeaTac just 10 minutes from Sounder with high-frequency service.

      1. That’s a terrible location to build a functioning transit station. Hugely expensive with multi-level platforms, and poor or non-existent connections with bus transit.

        There are good reasons why ST never built it ~ high costs and low ridership.

      2. Tukwila’s mayor is pushing for BAR Station, although we’ll see if it remains in the January letters. He cites its proximity to a planned urban village centered on 144th Street, an extension of Rapid Ride A to it, and proximity to the Museum of Flight and Aviation High School.

        Transfering from Sounder to Link to SeaTac airport just isn’t practical. Sounder only runs a few times a day, and even the maximum proposal is hourly. If you miss the Sounder run you’ve missed your flight. People from Seattle have a one-seat ride on Link, which is only 27 minutes from Intl Dist. People from Tukwila/Renton wouldn’t travel far enough on Sounder to make it worth it. People in Kent and Auburn would be better off taking the 180, which is 20 minutes from Kent. People in Sumner and Puyallup aren’t numerous enough to make a Sounder-Link transfer for. People in Tacoma would have to go through Sounder’s big detour through Puyallup and Kent; they might as well take the 574 or their precious Central Link extension. So who would transfer from Sounder to Link to the airport?

    4. Used to be a plan for a station at Boeing Access, where Sounder passengers could cross-platform to LINK. I still see an eventual express line straight south with a stop at King County Airport- and Boeing Access.

      I see a chance that some of these trains would head up to the airport, and others head for the Kent Valley. Future, future….

      Mark

  4. I don’t think the JBLM situation is as bad as you make it out to be. The vast majority of the acreage is empty training areas and airfields. The people are in a few relatively compact office clusters, dense-ish barracks, and fairly sparse duplex and single-family housing. It’s not the U District, but I don’t think it’s impossible to run decent bus service if people can work out the security issues.

    1. With all-day Sounder service and Cascades trains on the Pt Defiance Bypass, there’s at least a decent opportunity for a main line from Lakewood to Dupont serving Madigan, The PX, and the long row of administrative buildings along Pendleton. You’d miss North Fort, most of Gray Army Airfield, and the Stone Ed Center, but it’d be the best you could do with a single line. A fully robust system would need to have at least a half dozen routes and be fully subsidized by DOD using currently undersubscribed Mass Transit Benefit Program funds…JBLM has always been a money pit for PT.

      1. Security issues of the base are always a concern. I always thought it would be neat if you could build a transfer facility, say at Main Gate for rail and bus, and have the security checkpoint in the terminal building much like an airport, and on the “secured” side you have various shuttles circulating the employees and civilians around the post. Of course this would add another stop, and since it would be on the base it would be a dedicated stop with little chance of other non military use. Another though I had was build a secured yard and building a Lakewood station, and have shuttles from JBLM run to that point with their doors “sealed” much like some cruise ship shuttles run from Seattle to Vancouver skipping customs, and have the security checkpoint in the station building itself. This would probably allow for better connectivity to McChord Field although a bit longer ride to Fort Lewis (or is it Camp Lewis now)

  5. There are mismatched Links to letters in the post. I’m trying to get at PT’s and I’m getting Fife’s.

    Tacoma should be asking for more. In a 25 year ballot measure, there’s no reason to not continue progress on to rail to Tacoma Mall with Central or Tacoma Link. Linking two regional growth centers a few miles apart is a worthwhile exercise, perhaps not at the same level of infrastructure as other connections.

    6th Avenue should be studied as a corridor to Tacoma CC. The obsession with 19th St, which has longer block distances, less diversity in land use, and businesses that do not stay open late does not bode well for an extension in that direction. 6th Avenue is home to Pierce Transit’s most popular route and would yield substantial improvements in transit speed and reliability on that corridor and have better land use characteristics. The City should be advocating for more investigation of 6th Avenue for light rail.

    1. Streetcar westbound 6th Avenue to Pearl, turning southbound and running LRT and out south to Lakewood. Possible Pearl St. turn good location for transfer to express bus across Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Check it out.

      Mark

  6. A whole bunch of links (Puyallup’s letter, Sumner’s letter, etc.) point to Fife’s letter. Copypasta?

  7. I think the STB stab at Tacoma’s population growth was accurate, but lacking detail. Let’s keep in mind that the Asarco smelter closed 30 years ago, precipitating probably a decade or more of population loss as homeowners with formerly good-paying manufacturing jobs slowly sold their homes and moved on to jobs or retirement elsewhere, while no working-class jobs moved in to fill the void. Less than five years ago, the city took another blow when Russell moved to Seattle, and now Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser moved to Seattle, as well. Despite all of these blows to the economy, the population still grew by 16 percent!!!!! Seattle has, indeed, become unaffordable for the average person. When I was working in Kirkland, the vast majority of the workforce in my office commuted in from either Snohomish County or south of Renton, as only the few old people lucky enough to buy homes in the late 90s could afford home or rent prices on the Eastside. I’ll never live in Seattle, and the quality of life in Tacoma does, indeed, continue to improve. As the high-paid tech geeks, lawyers, doctors, real estate speculators, and rocket scientists continue to gobble up the real estate of Seattle driving the prices up, and driving out average working folks, the working folks have to go somewhere, and Tacoma is about the best alternative to Seattle that our region offers.

    1. Wasn’t intended to be a ‘stab’, just an expression of doubt that 127,000 in 25 years is really feasible. I do agree that Tacoma is the best alternative, and with reliable all day service to Seattle I’d happily live there before I’d choose a close-in suburb like Edmonds or Burien. And while there’s a lot of underused or vacant land in the core, there is also strong resistance to VERY modest upzones in some of Tacoma’s most livable neighborhoods (like Proctor).

      1. I would point out that Seattle had more residents in 1960 and 1970 than we did in 1990.

        Past trends are not directly linked to future growth.

      2. I also suggest looking at employment density when it comes to transit. It seems natural to focus on population totals, but since transit use has a widely variable mode share, the residential data has less importance than factors which grow transit ridership like parking charges, employment density and neighborhood layout.

        Consider how Downtown Bellevue was still shorter office buildings with plenty of free parking just 35-40 years ago.

      3. I too found it hard to believe Tacoma will see this sort of growth. But looking for statistics I found an old document that shows Pierce County grew by almost 30% from 1990 to 2005 (Table 2.1). What’s impressive is that almost all of that growth is in the incorporated areas. I’m sure that annexation is a big factor but still; I suspect the ratio is much larger for unincorporated growth in Snohomish County. The projection in this document was for 834,400 in 2013 (Table 2.2) which was a bit optimistic.(Population, 2014 estimate 831,928). Why Tacoma hasn’t absorbed it’s share of growth is a bit of a mystery but I could definitely see The City of Destiny experiencing a Renaissance in the next 25 years.

        State Farm took over the building vacated by Russel and as far as I know Weyerhaeuser is still headquartered in Federal Way. The Port of Tacoma is very competitive. And as others have pointed out the cost of living is dirt cheap. I’ll bet you could rent a large house and pay for moorage on Commencement Bay for less than a swank apartment on Capitol Hill.

        As far as cut backs in military spending what has been happening is base closures and consolidation. JBLM isn’t going anywhere. It has a hospital, 2 air fields, a huge training area (including the Yakima live fire range) and is strategically located in the NW corner of the country. And McChord is a MAC base which, unlike say long range bombers or manned fighter jets isn’t going to become obsolete.

      4. Good points made by all. I really do think that the future is bright for Tacoma. Military investment in long-term infrastructure projects at JBLM is strong and its location is strategic, both of which are indicators that it will continue to be a base for military activity, if not a consolidation point for other smaller bases that close. Given that young people have been trending away from ownership of large single family homes with yards and towards a more compact lifestyle that involves an investment in travel and other “experiences” rather than large homes with amenities, I believe that that 30 percent growth rate the Pierce County saw from 1990 to 2005 will be concentrated in Tacoma rather than in the surrounding suburban areas in the coming 15 years. The sales price of homes north of S 12th St versus comparable homes in Puyallup, Lakewood, Fife, or Federal Way certainly indicates that there is a demand for homes in Tacoma. (Two years ago, I would have specified “north of 6th Ave”, but that area of desirable neighborhoods continues growing.)

        Regarding NIMBY-ism against developments like Proctor Station, while I support the type of development that Proctor Station represents and personally think that it’s a good project, Proctor isn’t necessarily the top neighborhood that should be seeing up-zones and higher-density development. There is plenty of available, often vacant, land in Stadium, Hilltop, Downtown, and the Brewery District, all situated much closer to good transit. Transit in Proctor is decent by Pierce County standards, but lousy by Seattle standards. I think many of the neighbors in Proctor see what I am seeing and don’t necessarily envision their neighborhood as an urban center, because currently, its cluster of restaurants, boutique shops, and two grocery stores hardly makes it an urban center. Moreover, the NIMBY attitude of a few vocal residents in Proctor is not unlike what Seattle experiences in its higher-income neighborhoods that are also experiencing growing pains.

      5. The big problem I see is that people are instead moving to Lacy, western Gig Harbor ( the atea around Kopachuck State Park in particluar) and other places that are impossible to access except by driving. Already, downtown Gig Harbor is so chocked with road traffic that trying to cross the street is nearly impossible.

        Those new condos by the glass museum seem to have filled up ok. The ones at Point Ruston are probably just too far away from anything.

    2. If the main advantage of a place is “its cheaper”, then I doubt it will ever grow that fast. If the main advantage of a place is “its cheaper, but has more charm than other cheap places”, then maybe it will grow faster. But if the best thing you can say about a place is “its cheaper, has more charm than other cheap places, but is a long way from work”, then I doubt it will ever grow. For Tacoma to grow, it will have to have jobs. So far, that isn’t happening.

      Baltimore isn’t growing (in fact it is shrinking) despite the fact that is about as far away from DC as Tacoma is to Seattle and has a much better transit connection. DC, meanwhile, is extremely expensive, and is growing. Baltimore may be the only affordable town in the area with any charm, but that hasn’t resulted in growth — because there aren’t any jobs there. If the country actually reduces the amount it spends on the military, then I could see Tacoma shrinking quite a bit in the coming years. It don’t think it will completely fall apart (retirees will snatch up some bargains) but I don’t see it growing much.

      1. Baltimore is hardly a fair comparison. Baltimore has one of the highest crime rates in the US and was recently listed as one of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world. (I have and have had friends who live/lived there and I definitely believe it.) Moreover, Baltimore has a much larger stock of abandoned and dilapidated properties in Tacoma. Vacant crumbling buildings breed trouble. The real estate in Tacoma is pretty well maintained, thanks to hungry real estate investors and a proactive code enforcement office, by comparison.

      2. In the last census, Baltimore grew for the first time since 1950. Wasn’t much, but it was something.

  8. While JBLM is indeed massive virtually all of it’s activity is between the Madigan entrance and the main gate. There’s really not that much distance required to cover the hospital, PX, commissary, etc. McChord Field however is a completely separate entity and I don’t see transit there being viable.

      1. Camp Murray is National Guard. I drove back into the depths of Tillicum last time I was in Lakewood and stumbled upon the massive new gate and facility that’s been built there. It was locked down tight as a drum with nothing going on. I think when it’s busy it really busy but in between deployments it’s a ghost town save for yearly training exercises. Anyway, not much transit can offer. North Fort too is largely a ghost town unless there’s a major “boots on the ground” deployment. I think most of the employment at Madigan and Fort Lewis is civil service doing maintenance and providing services to veterans and dependents. Madigan has become as busy as the Main Gate. When you get off at the exit for the Main Gate the number of cars following the sign toward “No. Fort Lewis” is miniscule. And a good number of them are headed to Steilacoom. The other area that used to be nothing but a bone yard for old vehicles but I think now is used quite heavily is Logistics north of Madigan.

  9. It’s noteworthy how arterial BRT requests are included. If Seattle can ask for Madison BRT (which doesn’t go by a Link station), then any coty can ask for arterial BRT in ST3.

    ST can’t keep ignoring whether local transit BRT projects should be in or out in principle for ST3. They can’t now easily pick one arterial and ignore the rest.

    1. It may be a good thing if more cities ask for BRT capital investments. I wouldn’t mind supporting Swift 2, 3, 4, and 5 via ST. It would make better sense than an Everett Link extension or ST Express feeders.

  10. “I am surprised that Puyallup has not asked for service pattern variations, namely express or skip-stop trains that could improve its time advantage even further. (Such express trains already run during Seahawks games.)”

    I am surprised the same thing can’t be done with Link. There are plenty of systems in Japan that have more stations per mile than Link, and yet manage to run express trains that avg 40+mph.

    1. The problem is this. The maximum amount of time an express train (peak hour) could save over a local train would be 6 minutes. Anything beyond that and the express train would simply get stuck behind a local train and have to wait. And if the time saved is less than 6 minutes, it’s probably not worth it.

      Japan most likely has a triple-tracked system to allow express trains room to pass local trains in front of them. The New York subway also does this. But adding a passing track here would be extremely expensive, and should be near the bottom of the priority list.

  11. I wish that all these Sounder towns would be specific in calling out night time Sounder service. Sound Transit keeps calling it “commuter” rail and is not interested adding an 11:30pm train or anything weekends except for a few sports events and the Puyallup fair. Transit should not just be about commuters. Many South King and Pierce County residents never go to Seattle because of the fear of traffic, congestion and “getting lost” in Seattle, and crazy parking prices. There are many people whose social life is limited to watching TV because of this. If we can get these people off their couch by providing easy transit to downtown then it can benefit all of us. We can get more options in live music, plays, theaters, restaurants and sports events if we can reduce the fear of traveling to the city. And the real selfish goal of mine- the more people we can get to the Mariners games, then we can afford a real bullpen and maybe see the playoffs again.

    1. +1

      A lot of people on this blog don’t appear to appreciate how many people live outside of Seattle and only come for special events: theatre, sports, concerts, etc. I live in Olympia and only come to Seattle about 8 times a year when I have tickets to something going on. I would LOVE to be able to take transit, but with everything designed for weekday commutes, and special events being on evenings and weekends, transit just isn’t a viable option.

      1. I think Sound Transit got so burned by the BNSF fifteen years ago, and has left such a bitter taste in their mouth they don’t want to make many promises or even fully explore expanding the system out to its full logical network (DuPont (and Olympia someday), Sounder on the eastside line to Bellevue which would be a smash hit from day 1). Also their baby is LINK, but as it grows I think they are finding out quickly that its not quite the one solution fix everything at once they thought it would be, but they are too committed financially and politically to stop and re-consider at this point.

      2. That’s one of the things going for a DuPont to Tacoma service using light weight diesel light rail type cars: that line is owned by Tacoma Rail. If the city of Tacoma wants passenger service over it, they can set a much broader set of rules and fee structures than what the BNSF is willing to do.

        You’d probably need to have a pay parking structure in DuPont.

      3. Glenn, the Point Defiance Bypass tracks are owned by ST. Tacoma Rail has a freight easement on the tracks. If ST wants to add trains there, they just need to schedule around Amtrak and the freight service, contract with BNSF for operating crews and acquire some rolling stock. I’m not sure a shuttle service between Dupont and Tacoma Dome make a lot of sense though.

    2. Wouldn’t a shadow bus service make as much sense? Late at night, traffic isn’t as bad. Ridership is still significant, but not huge. It seems like you could just run a few express buses and accomplish the same thing for much cheaper. That would, in turn, increase Sounder ridership (I’m sure there are people who normally ride the train into town in the morning, but skip it on Friday night because it is such a hassled to get late).

      1. You may be right about a bus making sense but sometimes people don’t make sense. A lot more people will take a light rail or a sounder that are ” casual users” of transit. Buses tend to cause fear for suburban people. They might get on the wrong one, or go to the wrong place or something… Rail seems easier and safer to most people.
        At least they could do a trial of a 11:30 train for a while to see what kind of interest there is. Call it a “drunk train” and maybe it would be very popular. :>)
        We are proud about our sports, arts, and music support in this town but I can see that support doubling if we tried harder on night transit.

    3. “Sound Transit keeps calling it “commuter” rail and is not interested adding an 11:30pm train”

      ST2 includes shoulder and mid-day service (around 9-10am, noon, and 1:30-3pm) on Sounder South; it will start in the next year or two. The ST3 potential project list has an item for hourly Sounder South into the evening seven days a week. That’s what the letters above are alluding to. I don’t expect 11:30pm this round but 7:30 or 8:30pm is being considered.

      The biggest issue is the cost of track time from BNSF, and completing the third track which will be primarily for passenger trains and not slow down for freight trains. (Freight: 30-40mph, passenger: 79, 90, or future HSR at 110mph.) ST is negotiating right now with BNSF to get a total price for the Sounder package I outlined above. Then ST will have to decide whether to put it in ST3.

      1. Again, even though an hourly level of all-day Sounder service looks like a significant upgrade, it would be a significant downgrade over today’s experience if it ends up replacing 20-30 minute service on the 594.

        Yes, it is sometimes possible to time inbound trips (if you have a car to drive to the P&R and aren’t beholden to bus schedules which don’t bother to align themselves with train schedules), but for outbound trips, special events end when they end.

        In the case of a Mariners’s game, half hourly service means that when the Mariners score two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score, you can stay and watch the end of the game. Hourly service means you get up and leave early in order to not miss the train (and be stuck waiting a whole hour for the next train).

        Similarly, Sounder service that ends at 8:30 PM is not a substitute for a route 594 whose last trip leaves downtown Seattle around 10:30 PM. A last train leaving downtown at 8:30, without a shadow bus running later would make it completely impossible to attend any kind of evening event in Seattle without driving. This would be a big step backwards.

    4. Also, “commuter rail” means two different things. It originally meant riding on a multi-trip discount ticket (when we used to go to Vashon every weekend my parents got 10-ride ticket packages). Nowadays it often means “peak-only transit between suburbs and a central city”. But in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and others it means “all-day regional transit”. When I visited a friend in Jersey City, I was stunned that he called the nearby PATH train “commuter rail” because it runs every five minutes in the daytime and every fifteen minutes at night. I considered it a subway. But that’s what commuter rail should be like everywhere: running at least hourly all day including weekends and evenings, so that it can really be an alternative to driving.

  12. As usual the most obvious issue of Pierce Transit busses not being timetabled to work with and/or wait a few minutes for Sounder is missed, thus making the “last few miles” of our trips consume almost as much time as the whole sounder trip from Seattle to Puyallup it self. No amount of input via PT’s “contact us” form seems to get through to anyone that cares.

    The most recent upgrade to PT service was to delete the nearest bus stop to Track 2 (PM SB trains) for 402, 409 and 425, now we enjoy calculating the success rate of either trying to make it 4 blocks to the next stop, or crossing over to the Track 1 platform where the busses stop..

    Glad that express Sounder trips to/from the south end got a thought from somebody.

    1. I did not realize that stop had closed. I have thought for years it was a safety issue as you can easily get coaches and other vehicles blocking the tracks there. I have seen that happen a few times having dinner across the street.

  13. I’m kind of scratching my head about Lakewood wanting more Sounder service (northbound and southbound) when they have been leading the fight against the Pt. Defiance rail bypass for years. What’s next, Madison Park residents demanding a frequent, one-seat ride to Capitol Hill Station?

    1. We’re expecting Madison Park will change its mind about that over the next few years. The primary feedback this round was to keep the 11 near its current route (Madison-Pine). But after Link opens and people start using it more, demand for a direct route to Broadway & John may overtake the Madison-Pine demand. That may not lead completely to the to the 8-Madison route Metro originally proposed (Denny-Madison), but it could lead in that direction.

      I could ultimately three routes coming from Madison Park: the 8 to Uptown, the 11 to Pine, and the BRT extension to Madison. Some would say that’s too expensive and low-ridership. But geographically it’s the logical thing to do to fully serve all three corridors.

  14. “While there have been rumblings of a residential exodus to Tacoma in reaction to Seattle’s high prices, there has been little evidence to date of large scale defections”

    Part of that is because of the existing transit and land use. When I think about living in Tacoma, I think about waiting for the half-hourly 594, its slow and unreliable tail south of downtown Tacoma that makes the whole route unreliable, Sounder being no faster, and having to go through a car sewer to get from downtown Tacoma and the neighborhoods west of it to Tacoma Dome Station. I also think about the low-density one-story land use in those neighborhoods, their unrealized potential that may not be realized soon enough for me, and Pierce Transit’s hourly routes that basically only transit-dependent riders use outside work/school commutes.

    So I like Tacoma’s pre-WWII grid and buildings, but it would just be more convenient in Snohomish County or Kent. Lynnwood or Everett is closer to downtown, is much closer to north Seattle, is also closer to Bellevue, and ST2 Link will have double-frequency to Lynnwood. And Snoho has one Swift line and a few 15-minute frequent corridors (daytime) now.

    But if Tacoma were to get 40-minute hourly Sounder, and more frequent internal transit, and large enough urban villages, then I’d be more willing to move to it and be one of the 127,000. Even more if I could find a job that didn’t require commuting to downtown Seattle or beyond.

  15. So its looking like Link will go Tacoma as part of the spine. Its also looking like the plan is to take it to Tacoma Mall and further south at the expense of going downtown and having the Tacoma Link as the shuttle. Do people here really think that’s a good idea to skip downtown Tacoma with this regional rail line (especially as Tacoma Dome already has Sounder)? What other large city has a light rail transit line skip the downtown in favor of a mall? As far as I’m concerned much of the problem with and reason for decline of downtown Tacoma is that it has been bypassed and is no longer the crossroads it once was (between rail and water, hence its location in the first place). I-5, in particular, but even Sounder and likely Link all bypass downtown to serve the areas south of downtown where most of Tacoma’s population is located. I-5 funnels all the traffic away from downtown towards the mall and Lakewood. And the geography puts Downtown Tacoma on a peninsula with a giant industrial area adjacent making it hard to serve directly (but can be overcome). They tried to remedy it being bypassed and on a peninsula with the I-705 spur 35 years ago when they thought a freeway was the answer. Given downtown Tacoma’s geographic location, where most of its population lives and I-5 bypassing, I can totally understand why Downtown Tacoma got whacked so much harder than other downtowns.

    It would be really nice in my opinion if they looked at a Link line that managed to swing through the heart of downtown as it came down from Federal Way and on its way to what I guess is a given destination of Tacoma Mall. It might have to swing a bit through the port area to do so. But its a bit of Jarrett Walker’s Be-On-The-Way fundamental to transit design but in this case we are talking about a major downtown, that is otherwise out of direction to serve.

    1. “What other large city has a light rail transit line skip the downtown in favor of a mall?”

      What other city has downtown in an isolated penninsula?

      “I-5, in particular, but even Sounder and likely Link all bypass downtown to serve the areas south of downtown where most of Tacoma’s population is located.”

      I think you just answered your question, “where most of Tacoma’s population is located”.

      “no longer the crossroads it once was (between rail and water, hence its location in the first place)”

      I’m not sure how the early railroads went. To get to downtown Tacoma they would have had to bend back from Tacoma Dome or use the bridge across the tideflats. But the biggest railroad turning point came when Seattle was chosen as the rail crossroads instead of Tacoma. That could be when downtown Tacoma started being deemphasized in the rail network, and now the City of Tacoma seems content with continuing that direction.

      In any case, Tacoma wants Central Link because it will presumably bring jobs and workers to Tacoma and connect it better to the airport. The same Tacoma government did not ask for it to come downtown, but for Tacoma Link to be beefed up instead. They city presumably knows what their target businessmen want and will tolerate, and that seems to be Tacoma Link between the Dome and downtown, and from the neighborhoods to downtown.

      I expected Central Link to bend back to downtown Tacoma, probably on 705, and then perhaps west on 6th Avenue. I have problems with Tacoma Dome being separated from the neighborhoods and in a highway sewer. But then there’s Tacoma’s geography and downtown’s location and where the center of the population lives, so it’s not easy to give a black-and-white answer. And I’ve never spent much time in Tacoma so I don’t fully know the local needs. So I’m inclined to defer to what the city council wants, as long as it’s not something transit-hostile like replacing Tacoma Link with internal highways.

      1. I’m not sure how the early railroads went. To get to downtown Tacoma they would have had to bend back from Tacoma Dome

        Think about it. The mainline goes around Pt Defiance. There’s a reason the
        Washington State History Museum looks sort of like a grand old railroad station ;-)

      2. To be clear, the Museum was built in a style to complement Union Station next door which I think is now used as court rooms? Anyway, upstairs in the History Museum is an awesome HO layout roughly situated circa 1950 that displays many of the historic routes throughout Washington. I think Amtrak used Union Station up until the late 70’s or early 80’s.

  16. Light rail to Orting. Someone wrote it down and asked for it, publicly. I’d respect the Mayor of that fine city a great deal more if it turns out he was drunk when he composed that letter.

  17. Glenn, speeding up bus service serving, and going past, Dupont shouldn’t be that hard, though it would need some structure.

    Present Transit Center is literally an elevator ride to I-5. But it loses the 592 ten minutes to make the Dupont stop. For same proximity, Sounder stop no sweat at all.

    Engineer, both Detroit and Baltimore were energetic industrial cities before the 1970’s wrecked a lot beside men’s fashions. Good lesson in results of suddenly deciding that the exact jobs that used to let a 16 year old boy walk across the street from high school into a family-wage job just didn’t pencil out.

    Because same work was cheaper in a police state we’d fought in the Korean War. Would like to see those bronze vets across from the Capitol get up once every couple month at night, fly out of Sea-Tac and bayonet the execs responsible. Treason’s got to be punished.

    No foreign enemy ever left our industrial areas in same condition as mass job-removal. And the German cities we left in that condition, we’d repaired and rebuilt buy 1970. No event of enemy attack or treason ever poisoned a US water supply. Flint is second one in a few years.

    For transit connection, we’ve got mile long rolling napalm bombs running five feet above DSTT just north of Jackson. Won’t take ISIS- though they’ll certainly take credit.

    In other words, every single one of this country’s internal disasters is completely self-inflicted. Meaning we can fix Baltimore and Detroit. Or let their economy be high grade meth as long as we like.

    Mark Dublin

  18. I’m curious if University Place or Fircrest have any comment. The proposed TCC connection runs on their northern boundary.

  19. Interesting to see the Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe at odds against Fife on the alignment of the Central Spine with the tribe taking a stronger stance on alignment. I’m sort of with the Tribe/Tacoma on this one though. Milton Way is a terrible idea for a stop and the only thing worth stopping for in Fife is the Emerald Queen.

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