Tacoma Amtrak Citizens Advisory Committee to review preliminary new Amtrak station plans

The Washington State Department of Transportation will roll out its preliminary plans for a new Tacoma Amtrak station at a meeting scheduled Tuesday at the University of Washington Tacoma.

The 4:30 p.m. meeting in the UWT’s Garretson, Woodruff and Pratt Building at 1754 Pacific Ave. will be followed by a second meeting on Sept. 16 at the same location and time to show progress on the designs. Both meetings will be in the Dawn Lucien Boardroom on the building’s third floor.

While the meetings are being called by the Tacoma Amtrak Citizens Advisory Committee, the public is welcome to attend.

The preliminary design reveal is the first since December when WSDOT unveiled preliminary plans for the new station in the west end of Freighthouse Square near the Tacoma Dome.

Those designs drew a chorus of criticism from the committee and the public for their utilitarian feel and for their location. Since then, the department and the citizens committee have agreed to move the station to the middle of the historic building and to respect the history and materials of the old railroad warehouse in the new design.

A new station is necessary because Amtrak is rerouting its trains from the present waterfront route along Ruston Way and the Tacoma Narrows to a shorter route through South Tacoma and Lakewood. The existing station is on the waterfront route. The so-called “Point Defiance bypass” route is being financed by an $89 million federal grant.

The Tuesday meeting’s agenda calls for the committee to provide its input on four elements of the design: the look of the station ceiling, the use of glass and wood on the building’s exterior, the design of the station canopy and the shape of the supporting pillars.

If the committee approves the plans, WSDOT will submit those preliminary engineering designs to the Federal Railroad Administration in November. The final design will go to the FRA in October 2015 and construction will begin in December 2015 with completion set for March of 2017.