Tacoma Link Expansion

The 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail line currently serves six stations between the Theater District and Tacoma Dome Station. Trains run every 12 minutes during the day and served one million riders in 2012. Voters approved Sound Transit 2 in 2008, which included funding for a partnership to explore options for expanding Tacoma Link.

This project will identify and study alternative travel corridors for expanding the Tacoma Link system and produce a project financing plan that identifies committed and potential funding sources. Sound Transit, in cooperation with the City of Tacoma and Pierce Transit, engaged the community to help identify a range of alternatives, study these alternatives  and determine a preferred alternative for expansion. Sound Transit will continue to engage the community throughout conceptual design and environmental review for the selected alignment.


Please watch this presentation to learn more about the proposed design of the Operations and Maintenance Facility. Comments can be sent to lauren.wheeler@soundtransit.org.


Mode: Link

Project phase: Preliminary design


  • December 2015: Sound Transit presented 30% design to public and gathered feedback to be presented to final design team; Tacoma Link Expansion received $75 million in federal funding from a Small Starts Grant
  • November 2015: Sound Transit Board of Directors selected the alignment to be built
  • August 2015: City of Tacoma’s Council recommends project to be built to the Sound Transit Board of Directors
  • July 2015: Presented environmental evaluation findings to the public; began preliminary design; sought public input on findings and design; prepared public comments for Sound Transit Board of Directors as they prepared to select the alignment to be built (November 2015)
  • Spring 2015: Present environmental evaluation findings to the public; begin preliminary design; seek public input on findings and design; prepare public comments for Sound Transit Board of Directors as they prepare to select the alignment to be built (June 2015)
  • February 2015: Sound Transit notified Tacoma Link Expansion included in President Obama's proposed 2016 budget for $74.99 million small starts grant
  • Winter 2014/2015: Finalize environmental evaluation in accordance with Federal Transportation Administration, National Environmental Protection Agency and State Environmental Protection Agency
  • Winter Spring/Summer 2014: Begin conceptual engineering on selected alignment and environmental analysis. Identify station locations and site options to expand the existing operations and maintenance facility.
  • Winter 2013: Sound Transit identifiesPDF iconalignment for potential expansion
  • Summer 2013: Complete early technical work on the corridor alignment/Negotiate new scope of work with the consultant
  • Fall 2013: Identify potential route alignments

PDF iconAlignment map

Additional alternatives documents are available in the document archive.

Alternatives Analysis

Building an expansion of Tacoma Link will require substantial federal funding. The Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) discretionary New Starts program is the federal government's primary financial resource for supporting locally planned, implemented and operated transit capital investments such as Tacoma Link. New Starts funding is awarded nationwide on a competitive basis following a rigorous, objective review of potential projects. Sound Transit plans to request New Starts funds for the Tacoma Link expansion project.  

To be eligible and competitive for these federal funds, Sound Transit completed an alternatives analysis (AA) for the project. An AA is the local process for evaluating costs, benefits and impacts of a range of alternatives designed to address mobility problems and other locally identified objectives in a defined transportation corridor, and for determining which particular investment strategy should be advanced for more focused study and development. The goal of an AA is to provide the public, local officials and potential funding partners with sufficient information to decide: "What is the best transportation solution for addressing our problems? What are its benefits? How much will it cost? And how are we going to pay for it?" Sound Transit published the Alternatives Analysis Report in May 2013.

Expansion Alternatives Analysis Report & SEPA Addendum

What's been accomplished so far?

Alternatives Analysis (Summer 2012-Spring 2013)

Alignment Evaluation (Summer 2013-Spring 2014)

  • Identified route alignments within selected corridor for expansion
  • Studied route alignments and conducted early conceptual design
  • Hosted two open houses to gather public comments on alignments
  • Sound Transit Board identified preferred alignment for expansion

What's next?

Environmental Review and Conceptual Design (Spring 2014-Spring 2015)

  • Conduct conceptual design for selected alignment
  • Identify and gather public comments regarding station locations and site options for maintenance facility expansion
  • Determine type of environmental review documentation needed
  • Conduct environmental review and share results with public and agencies
  • Submit application for FTA New Starts/Small Starts grant funding
  • Ongoing community and agency engagement