Sound Transit Board selects alignment, stations for Tacoma Link Expansion

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Project moves into final design as agency, city identify remaining funding needed for construction 

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today selected the route, stations, and expanded operation and maintenance facility for the Tacoma Link Expansion. When built, the 2.4-mile extension will serve riders traveling from the Theater District to the Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods. 

“By extending light rail to the Stadium Way and Hilltop districts, more people will have better access to jobs, schools, and everyday needs,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We’ll also work with residents to make sure that transit supports and enhances the unique character of their communities.”

“Today’s board action enables us to complete project design and move forward with this long-awaited expansion,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “Thanks to all the residents, businesses and community leaders for supporting more transit options that will benefit our neighborhoods, local businesses and the environment.”

The Tacoma Link Expansion will run primarily in-street along Stadium Way, North 1st Street, Division Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr., Way. It will include one relocated station in the Theater District and six new stations: Stadium Way and South 4th Street, the Stadium District, Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Division Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 6th Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South 11th Street, and Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South 19th Street. The expansion also includes an expanded Tacoma Operations and Maintenance Facility at 824 E. 25th St. next to the existing maintenance facility. 

During the next two years, staff will advance engineering work on the expansion. The preliminary cost estimate of approximately $175 million in year-of-expenditure dollars will also be refined. Assuming all project funding is secured, construction would begin in 2018.

In 2008, voters approved a funding partnership to expand Tacoma Link. In addition to Sound Transit 2 tax revenues and City of Tacoma contributions, the Obama Administration has included $75 million in Federal Transit Administration Small Starts funding in its FY 2016 budget proposal to Congress. 

Last month, the City of Tacoma received a $15 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. To date, the City has secured $33 million in federal and state grants toward the expansion, and has committed to identifying an additional $7 million to complete its $40 million contribution to the project. 

The existing 1.6-mile light rail line serves six stations between the Theater District and the Tacoma Dome. Trains run every 12 minutes and provide nearly a million rides per year.