|Sound Transit's Rush Fisher Boardroom (5/23/2013)|
Photo by Chris K.
Unlike at the Tacoma City Council, where the light rail extension was contentious and ended in an 8-1 decision, the Sound Transit Board had very little to say about the extension itself before their unanimous vote. In the final anticlimactic moments before final approval, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland indicated her hopes for revitalizing the historic shopping district couched between two regional medical facilities. Sound Transit Board Chair Pat McCarthy contrasted this extension process with the contentious and time-consuming process that Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue underwent to come to agreement on East Link. On that note, Mayor Strickland said, "Neighborhoods were clamoring for more transit." Both Pat and Marilyn thanked Sound Transit staff for their assistance and analysis.
Several members of the public addressing the Board indicated their support for an E1 alternative. Downtown On The Go's Kristina Walker cited the E1's feature of linking Downtown Tacoma with the Stadium District - which is the densest residential neighborhood in Pierce County.
Kevin Grossman, president of the Hilltop Development Association also added his words of support, "This is a dense and active area with a lot of underdeveloped land."
Robert Scheuerman, who I served with on the City of Tacoma's Streetcar Feasibility Study Committee in 2006 and 2007 spoke in favor of E1, while also calling attention to the need to find the additional $50m local match. "If we wait for the tooth fairy, we will be waiting a long time."
I also got up and spoke about how E1 is a justifiable corridor, although its geometry would benefit fewer current Tacomans and have less impact on travel time than a B1 corridor. In the end I told the Board something like, "There is no such thing as a perfect alternative, but this is a pretty good one that I can support."
With alternatives analysis now finally over, there may be a few of you who are curious about what the project schedule looks like. I was able to dig up the current draft schedule from some of Sound Transit's documents. The diagram below shows environmental review lasting into mid-2014, final design occurring after that, lasting about two years into mid-2016, and then construction and transition to service occurring sometime in 2020.
In the immediate future: over the course of the summer, the Tacoma Link Expansion team will be developing the next phase of the project, a draft of alignment and station locations in the corridor. The environmental review process will sort of flow from that and begin in the Fall of 2013.