WSDOT Freighthouse Square meetings scheduled

Staff writerJanuary 16, 2014 

Freighthouse Square, as seen from 25th and East D streets, December 11, 2013.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer Buy Photo

The state Department of Transportation backed off of its proposal to demolish the westernmost 150 feet of Freighthouse Square to build a new Amtrak station. Now the agency wants to hear your design ideas.

The DOT said it would hold two meetings this month to ask for feedback from the public. Those meetings have now been scheduled:

  • 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, Room 708 of Tacoma City Hall, 747 Market St.
  • Noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, Room 708 of Tacoma City Hall, 747 Market St.
The agency wants to hear people’s suggestions for the new station, including “design requirements and options for architectural elements for the new station,” according to a postcard the agency is passing around.

The DOT will follow up with a third meeting in February to unveil designs based on the feedback received. The time for that meeting has not been set.

Residents told the DOT earlier this month that the Amtrak station should move from the west end to the east end of Freighthouse Square, and that the design should retain the original shell of the building.

In December, a small group of Dome District residents and business owners attended a meeting at Freighthouse Square to receive an update about WSDOT’s plans for the building. The design’s unveiling was not popular.

According to state Rep. Jake Fey, a vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee, transportation officials “were feeling kind of embarrassed because (the December meeting) set things in the wrong direction. … If they could do a do-over, they would not have released (the design) or brought it up. (The design) was in the very early stages.”

Tacoma planner Ian Munce said the city is trying to marshall resources to hire a local architect, and plans to ask the DOT to chip in, too.

The proposed Freighthouse Square station is part of an $800 million statewide plan to reroute Amtrak trains from the slower route that runs along Puget Sound to an existing Sound Transit inland route that roughly parallels I‐5 from Tacoma to Nisqually, according to the DOT. The new route requires moving the Amtrak station from its existing location on Puyallup Avenue to Freighthouse Square just a few blocks away. Tacoma’s new station is part of $89 million expected to be spent in Pierce County on the Point Defiance Bypass.

The Point Defiance Bypass is nothing new. The state Department of Transportation started working on this as early as 2006.

For more information about the meetings and the Point Defiance Bypass, visit the WSDOT website.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542

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