Friday, May 24, 2013

Sound Transit selects corridor for potential Tacoma Link expansion

The Sound Transit Board of Directors selected the North Downtown Central Corridor as the alignment to move ahead with further environmental review for a potential expansion of the Tacoma Link light rail system. The alignment, also known as the E1 corridor, serves the Stadium District and Martin Luther King Jr. mixed use center.

"The decision by the board today allows Sound Transit to focus its planning efforts on one corridor out of the 24 corridor options studied, with the goal of identifying a specific route for expanding the Tacoma Link light rail line," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "We are pleased to be moving the project forward to the project level environmental review phase, though there is more work to be done in finding a financial partner or partners. Still, the selection of E1 as the preferred corridor is an important step in bringing us closer to offering Link light rail to more Tacoma residents, commuters and businesses."

The board selected the corridor from four options that had risen to the top during an evaluation process that included extensive community involvement from a citizens' stakeholder group and numerous public meetings.

The 2.3-mile route will be further defined and evaluated as part of the project level environmental review process. Once this environmental review is complete, the board is expected to take final action on the project route, station locations and project funding.

A potential partnership to expand Tacoma Link was approved by voters in 2008 as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. Construction of the project is contingent on securing $50 million from a funding partner or partners and $50 million in federal "Small Starts" grant funding to supplement $50 million in local ST2 revenues. The preliminary estimated cost of the E1 corridor is $133 million.

Tacoma Link currently operates on a 1.6-mile route between the Tacoma Dome and Theater District stations. During a 10-month alternatives analysis process, six corridor options were selected for further evaluation from a total of 24 possible options. Two additional "hybrid" corridors, one requested by the city of Tacoma and another by a citizens' stakeholder roundtable group that convened as part of the alternatives analysis for the project, were also reviewed.

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