On Monday, Sound Transit announced that it had received a $75 million Small Starts grant from the FTA for the Tacoma Link Extension, which will extend the current streetcar-like Tacoma Link through the Stadium District and Hilltop neighborhood west of downtown. This project isn’t to be confused with the Tacoma Dome Link Extension, which will bring real Link light rail trains from Federal Way to Tacoma Dome Station, where passengers can transfer over to Tacoma Link.
The Small Starts grant was originally approved by Congress last year and will cover about a third of the project’s $217 million budget, which includes contributions from Sound Transit 2 ($94 million) and the City of Tacoma ($48 million). Sound Transit says that the grant will enable construction to begin later this year and wrap up in 2022. The project will extend Tacoma Link by 2.4 miles and add six new stations, plus the relocated Theater District station (which will be renamed to Old City Hall), serving several hospitals on “Medical Mile”. Once the Hilltop extension is completed, Tacoma Link trains will run at a frequency of 10 minutes and begin charging a fare, which is currently waived thanks to a donation from the Tacoma Business Improvement Area.