Tacoma lays out Potential Light Rail/BRT Corridors

High Capacity Transit Corridors (Source: City of Tacoma. July 28 2014)

The City of Tacoma submitted a letter to Sound Transit on the last day of public comment for the Long Range Plan Update Draft SEIS.  The letter spilled about half its ink on justification for why Tacoma is a key player in meeting Growth Management goals in the Puget Sound.  The City of Tacoma is mandated by Washington State’s Growth Management Act and the Puget Sound Regional Council to plan for additional growth over the next several decades.  From the statistics provided it really looks like Tacoma is slated to absorb half of the growth in Pierce County to 2040.  Mayor Strickland’s letter stressed the fact that transit investments are important to fulfilling that growth.

“Within the City of Tacoma we have designated areas that have been carefully planned to accommodate nearly 127,000 additional residents and 97,000 additional jobs, in conformance with PSRC population and employment allocations, and the demonstrated zoning and development capacity to bring these allocations to fruition.

Our own environmental analysis of these areas has shown that transit connectivity to designated growth areas within and outside the City of Tacoma is absolutely necessary to accommodate growth for which the City has been mandated to plan.” [emphasis mine]

The City had some fairly generic recommendations for regional connections, including:

  1. Central Link light rail from Seatac to Tacoma
  2. All-day Sounder Service on weekdays
  3. Modifications to the ST Express bus network as new high capacity transit comes online

Potential High Capacity Transit Corridors

However, when it came to High Capacity Transit (i.e. light rail and bus rapid transit), the letter was more explicit about what centers and corridors should be connected in Tacoma.  6th Avenue to TCC, it’s in there.  DT Tacoma to Tacoma Mall, it’s in there, too.  The map shows potential corridors with land uses that would support HCT, but largely remained agnostic to what technology should be used.  The notable exceptions of 6th Avenue and 19th St to TCC were suggested to be extensions of Tacoma Link.  The map above was developed with input from the Tacoma Transportation Commission, City staff, and transportation consultants Fehr & Peers.

It is encouraging to see Tacoma actively involved in developing an HCT network with rapid bus, light rail, and streetcar service.  Prior till now Tacoma has focused almost exclusively on the regional connections aspect of Sound Transit – getting to the airport with light rail, etc.  This time Tacoma firmly asserted that it is going to expect a lot more from Sound Transit 3 to connect Tacoma’s growth, population, and job centers with more high quality transit options.

Read the full letter here: http://goo.gl/5c821s.