What did we learn about the corridors?
We don't have the raw data, but we do have the slides that were presented to Council. The outcome of additional analysis from Sound Transit consultants gave us a bit more information about the constraints and potential of the six chosen corridors. However I'm not convinced that we needed to pay consultants to tell us that:
- G1 - Pacific Highway to Fife, was not going to have viable ridership numbers, or that,
- E2 - Downtown Loop was going to be wildly expensive due to engineering challenges, or that,
- C1 - Eastside was unlikely to be a good candidate for matching funds from a local improvement district, and finally that,
- D4 - South End via Eastside was simply too long to be constructed with a budget of ~$150m.
|Tacoma Link Expansion Alignment B1 - North End Central|
The result of the analysis leaves, as it always has, B1 - North End Central (Purple Line) and E1 - North Downtown Central (Orange Line) - extensions to 6th Avenue/Union Ave and Martin Luther King Jr. Way/S. 19th St, respectively. An alternate message one can glean from this analysis is that perhaps the best extension candidates actually have a whole lot in common.
What is interesting from the presentation though is that in several places Sound Transit seems to now be getting down to how to pay for this thing, indicating that both B1 and E1 are viable candidates to be partially paid for with a local improvement district or LID. The cost for B1 is slated at $163m, while E1 is slightly lower at $133m. A B1 alignment could just as easily be curtailed to Alder St. or Pine St. just so we could compare apples to apples at roughly the same cost.
What I now see as a potential outcome of this process is that in response to this new information from Sound Transit, two public LID efforts begin, one for 6th Avenue, and one for Martin Luther King Jr. Way. If property owners for both LIDs want to move forward and make an investment in transit, both extensions could actually be constructed and it wouldn't matter all that much which one Sound Transit chooses for a preferred alignment at this stage of the game - everybody wins.
So, who wants to start an LID? If both succeed, we could potentially quadruple the amount of streetcar track in Tacoma.