June 19--When Amtrak relocates its Tacoma passenger service in 2017, passengers boarding and leaving trains will use a new station. That station's preferred site will be the subject of a public meeting next Thursday (July 26) at the University of Washington Tacoma.
A new station location will be needed because Amtrak trains will no longer use the BNSF main line along Ruston Way through the Nelson Bennett tunnel under Point Defiance and along the shoreline near the Tacoma Narrows. Instead, passenger trains will follow an alternate route that passes near the Tacoma Dome, up the gulch that parallels South Tacoma Way to South Tacoma and Lakewood before joining the main line at Nisqually.
The new location has been a hot topic since last December when the state Department of Transportation unveiled an early concept showing the station in a rebuilt west end of the historic Freighthouse Square near the Tacoma Dome. After initial reaction to that plan was decidedly negative, the department has returned to the drawing board to consider other locations along with the west end site.
In a series of meetings last winter and spring, public sentiment leaned toward moving the station location to the east end of the 1,000-foot-long structure.
That location wouldn't alter the public western face of the building, and would provide access beneath the building for handicapped dropoffs and parking.
The department said that while the east end offered aesthetic and access advantages, further technical study was needed to determine if the east end site could be economically altered and whether it would meet Amtrak and state requirements.
Next Thursday's public meeting will update interested parties on the results of those further studies.
That meeting is set for 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the University of Washington's Dougan Building, Room 280. That building is at 1721 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663
Copyright 2014 - The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)