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Sound Transit Board approves funding for Pierce County bus rapid transit

$60 million approved in Sound Transit 3 will support new service along Pacific Avenue and State Route 7

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The Sound Transit Board of Directors today unanimously approved a capital contribution of $60 million to Pierce Transit for its bus rapid transit (BRT) project along the Pacific Avenue/State Route 7 corridor. The funding is part of the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) measure approved by voters in 2016. The new 14.4-mile BRT line will improve service on Pierce Transit’s highest ridership route along Pacific Avenue and State Route 7 from Tacoma to Spanaway.

"Tacoma is growing and becoming a hub for regional travel; it is vital that we proactively address transportation needs with appropriate investments in transit infrastructure," said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. Mayor Woodards is a member of the Sound Transit Board and is Chair of the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners. "Tacoma is already served by Sounder trains and regional buses. With the connectivity the new BRT line will provide and future regional light rail, Tacomans and travelers throughout the region will have several options to avoid traffic congestion."

"Teaming up with Pierce Transit to upgrade their busiest route will greatly improve transit service for Pierce County residents," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "This investment will provide a critical high capacity transit service to Tacoma Dome Station, one of the largest transit hubs in the region. When we bring regional light rail to Tacoma, Pierce County residents will have one more opportunity to leave their car at home and enjoy congestion-free mass transit." 

"We are excited about how this project will provide people with faster and more dependable transit between South Pierce County and downtown Tacoma, but it is really about much more than that," said Pierce Transit CEO Sue Dreier. "This Bus Rapid Transit line will provide other opportunities, such as enhanced economic development along the corridor, congestion mitigation as people choose not to drive alone, reliable access to universities and convenient transportation for the high percentage of transit-dependent customers who live along this corridor."

The estimated cost of the BRT project is $150 million. Pierce Transit has already secured $90 million, which includes the $60 million contribution from Sound Transit. Pierce Transit has applied to the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts Grant program for the remaining $60 million. 

The Pierce Transit Board adopted the Locally Preferred Alternative BRT termini (Spanaway to Downtown Tacoma) and alignment in July, 2018. In September 2018 Pierce Transit applied for the FTA Small Starts Grant. In April 2019, the Pierce Transit Board selected the BRT lane configuration and Tacoma Dome Station access routing. Earlier this month, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners approved the agency entering into an agreement with Sound Transit to accept the $60 million capital contribution.

The project is currently in environmental review. Preliminary engineering begins later this year with final design complete in early 2021. The anticipated completion of construction of the new BRT route is 2023.