Sound Transit officially OKs route for Tacoma Link expansion

Staff writerFebruary 27, 2014 

Sound Transit’s board of directors moved Tacoma’s Link light rail system one step closer to expansion Thursday, officially identifying a route up Stadium Way and onto the Hilltop for further study and engineering.

The board’s blessing advances the project to the environmental review phase, during which station locations will be identified and conceptual engineering accomplished.

Selection of the route came as no surprise. It’s the same alignment that rose to the top during a lengthy public process and was approved Feb. 4 by the Tacoma City Council by resolution.

The proposed expansion climbs north along Stadium Way to Stadium High School, past the northern end of Wright Park on Division Avenue and then turns on Martin Luther King Jr. Way to South 19th Street.

“The selection of the alignment is the result of an extensive alternatives analyses and public outreach process,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said. “Our next critical step will be to secure a local funding partner or partners, and federal funding, to ensure construction can begin once a final alignment is selected.”

The board is expected to select a final alignment after the environmental review is completed.

Cost of the expansion has been estimated at $165 million.

Voters approved funding the expansion in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The project is expected to require

$50 million from the ballot measure’s tax revenues,

$50 million from a local partnership, yet to be determined, and $50 million from a federal Small Starts grant.

Local and federal funding needs to be secured before construction can begin.

In a statement issued after the board’s selection, board member and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy called completing the extension “a top priority.”

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693

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