The Sound Transit Board of Directors on Feb. 27 identified an alignment along Stadium Way and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to the Hilltop District for the planned expansion of Tacoma Link light rail service. The alignment will advance to the environmental phase of the project for further study and refinement.
“Light rail is now integral to Tacoma’s transportation network, and the Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods are ideal locations for light-rail expansion,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Extending Tacoma Link will better connect these vital neighborhoods and the business district.”
The identified alignment would continue north from the existing Theater District Station along Stadium Way to the intersection of North First Street and Division Avenue, then from the intersection of North 1st Street and Division Avenue to Martin Luther King Way and South 19th Street. In this alignment, an expanded Tacoma Link would operate in both directions on Martin Luther King Way.
“Light rail is now an integral part of Tacoma’s transportation network, and the Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods are ideal locations for light-rail expansion,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Extending Tacoma Link will better connect these neighborhoods and the business district.”
The selection of the alignment is the result of an extensive alternatives analysis and public outreach process that began in August 2012. During that early scoping phase, public comment was sought on 24 corridor options in eleven distinct corridors. In May 2013, the Sound Transit Board selected the North Downtown Central Corridor (Hilltop via the Stadium District) as the preferred corridor for the potential Tacoma Link expansion. Since May, the agency has worked with city leaders, business owners, and residents to define and evaluate alignment options within the selected corridor.
“The selection of Stadium Way and Martin Luther King Way as the alignment for environmental review is the result of exhaustive and conscientious work by Sound Transit, city leaders, neighborhood businesses, and residents,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “The Stadium District and Hilltop community represent some of the city’s most densely populated areas, with several major health care facilities serving the area. Thanks to the high level of citizen engagement in the public process, we were able to narrow our alignment options from five to one. Our next critical step will be to secure a local funding partner or partners, and federal funding, to ensure construction can begin once a final alignment is selected.”
During environmental review, the alignment will undergo conceptual engineering. Station locations will also be identified, and site options for an expanded maintenance facility in the vicinity of the existing facility near East 25th and G streets will be studied. The Board is scheduled to select the final alignment after the environmental review. Construction of the project is contingent on securing local and federal funding.
“As the agency analyzes opportunities for expanding mass transit beyond the Sound Transit 2 projects approved by voters in 2008, completing our current plan remains a top priority,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.
Voters approved funding for the Tacoma Link Expansion in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The project is expected to require $50 million from ST2 tax revenues, $50 million from a local partnership, and $50 million from a federal Small Starts grant. Local partnership and federal funding must be secured in order to begin construction on the project.