When the Washington state Department of Transportation and a Tacoma Amtrak citizens advisory committee proposed a new Amtrak station at Freighthouse Square, they worried about traffic flow adjacent to the station.
Their solution: Convert East 25th Street to one-way eastbound between East D and East G streets.
A new feasibility study has given a conditional green light to the proposal to create the short one-way street segment adjacent to the new station to allow better access by buses, taxis, cars dropping off passengers and disabled customers.
The study by Seattle consulting firm DKS Associates said changing the quarter-mile segment of East 25th Street to one-way won’t have any major effects on existing traffic on the busy street that’s the site of a major transit parking garage, a light rail track, a Sounder commuter rail station and Freighthouse’s restaurants and retail business.
The study said that traffic signal timing at East 26th and D streets will need adjusting but that traffic flow at East 25th and D streets will operate with fewer delays.
The DKS study suggested that bike lanes along the street be improved and that back-in angle parking be considered along the side of Freighthouse Square to reduce potential pedestrian-car and bike-car collisions.
WSDOT is moving the Tacoma Amtrak station from its present site on Puyallup Avenue to the middle of Freighthouse Square because a rehabilitated rail line that cuts through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont can’t be serviced from the existing station. That renewed rail line beginning in 2017 will replace the BNSF Railways rail line along Ruston Way and along the Tacoma Narrows as the route Amtrak passenger trains will follow to Nisqually.
That shortcut is expected to save about 8 minutes in the trip between Seattle and Portland and relieve congestion on the waterfront line, which still will be used by freight trains. One bottleneck on the waterfront line is the single-track Nelson Bennett Tunnel under Point Defiance. Trains often queue up while waiting to pass through that tunnel.
Under the plan studied by DKS, only eastbound vehicle traffic on East 25th Street would be allowed. Light rail traffic would be allowed both ways.
The City of Tacoma has scheduled an open house at Freighthouse Square’s Rainier Room from 4:30-6 p.m. Aug. 13 to reveal the results of that traffic study and to seek feedback from citizens on the proposal.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663