Last week, the Sound Transit Board signed off on a $125.7 million budget for preliminary engineering on the Tacoma Dome Link Extension and a $10.3 million consultant contract for the same project. When the extension opens in 2030, trains will run all the way to the Tacoma Dome multimodal complex on 10 miles of mostly elevated track, passing through three intermediate stations before reaching Federal Way. Trains will take about 20 minutes to make the trip from Tacoma to Federal Way, and about 35 minutes from Tacoma to Sea-Tac Airport.
Like the “accelerated” schedule for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions, Tacoma Dome Link will take until 2019 to decide a preferred alternative and a final environmental impact statement may not be published until 2021. Construction won’t begin until 2025, a year after light rail trains start serving Federal Way.
The representative alignment for Tacoma Dome Link shows four stations, in South Federal Way, Fife, East Tacoma, and at Tacoma Dome Station, with two 500-stall parking garages at South Federal Way and Fife. A new operations and maintenance facility will need to be built along the extension to support the entire “Green Line” (which will use the new downtown tunnel and continue on to Ballard), with plenty of appropriate industrial land near the Port of Tacoma to choose from. Another complication for the project will come in the form of WSDOT’s Puget Sound Gateway Program, which will build a new freeway interchange east of Fife to connect State Route 509 to a new extension of State Route 167 by 2030. WSDOT’s plans (seen below) will involve a connection between the interchange and the future Fife station at 54th Avenue East and assumes that Link will use an alignment that follows Interstate 5.