Sound Transit listens to Tacoma, updates light rail vision

Sound Transit Potential Modification Alternative (Credit: Sound Transit – Sept 2014)

The Sound Transit Board and the Puget Sound Regional Council were briefed late last week about modifications to Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan Update following a round of public comment that ended in July.

I am happy to report that, thanks to comments from the public and the City of Tacoma,  Tacoma’s potential light rail corridors within the update package now make a great deal more sense.  Instead of seeing a route deviation to the Vashon Ferry Terminal (line 13, July 2014), Central and North Tacoma now have a pair of North-South and East-West corridors (lines 15, and 17, Sept 2014) that could potentially link Tacoma Community College as well as Ruston, Steilacoom, and Lakewood.

Further, light rail corridors are renumbered to make them more understandable.  Light rail corridor 6 now connects Tacoma’s South Downtown to the Tacoma Mall area, Lakewood, and Dupont and corridor 16 would connect University Place and what appears to be the Tacoma Mall (?).  To be sure, we will have to wait for the next release of the Long Range Plan Update before the end of this year.

LRP Update Potential Modifications (July 2014)
Pierce County Light Rail Alternatives (July 2014)

Pierce County Light Rail (Sept 2014)
Pierce County Light Rail Alternatives (Sept 2014)

One other significant change was that the Pacific Avenue light rail corridor was converted into what appears to be a general HCT connection between Downtown Tacoma and Parkland.  I highlighted the need for this change because previous studies have indicated that grades between Downtown Tacoma and the Pacific Avenue plateau exceed the technical specifications of current Tacoma Link trains.  Pierce Transit has studied the potential for BRT on Pacific Avenue as well.

These changes are a win for TacomaTransit, the Tacoma Transportation Commission, and the City of Tacoma, who all submitted comments encouraging many of these changes.