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Sound Transit in the market for land for Tacoma Link expansion

More than 140 Tacoma property owners have been told that some of their land might be needed, at least temporarily, to extend Tacoma Link on to the Hilltop. Only bits and pieces of private property and sometimes only the right to trespass during construction will be needed.
More than 140 Tacoma property owners have been told that some of their land might be needed, at least temporarily, to extend Tacoma Link on to the Hilltop. Only bits and pieces of private property and sometimes only the right to trespass during construction will be needed. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

Letters went out to more than 140 Tacoma property owners last week informing them that some of their land might be needed, at least temporarily, to extend Tacoma Link onto the Hilltop.

Sound Transit, the regional transit agency that operates Link, has set aside $3.2 million to acquire property or easements for the extension and an expansion of its maintenance and operations facility on East 25th Street in the Dome District.

That might seem like a low number, but agency spokeswoman Rachelle Cunningham said it’s realistic.

For the project, Sound Transit needs only bits and pieces of private property and, in many cases, only the right to trespass during construction.

“From what I understand, there isn’t the need for any relocations,” Cunningham said. “Most of the extension is going to run in the street. What we will be negotiating with many people is the right to set foot on their property during construction.”

Sound Transit hopes to acquire the necessary land and easements by 2019, Cunningham added. The agency legally can condemn land if necessary.

Surveyors hired by the agency were in affected neighborhoods late last year to scope out the alignment.

Plans call for the Link line that now terminates in the Theater District to be extended another 2.4 miles through the Stadium District and then onto the Hilltop, where it will run down Martin Luther King Jr. Way to South 19th Street.

The more than $170 million project will be paid for with about $50 million in taxes approved by voters with the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure of 2008, another $75 million in federal grants, and a $40 million to $45 million contribution from the city.

The city has secured nearly $33 million in grants to cover part of its share, said Tadd Wille, the city’s budget director.

“That means there is still an outstanding gap to fully fund the project,” Wille said. “We hope to either obtain more grants, in-kind match, et cetera, over the next few years to help offset some of the outstanding gap.”

The city does not expect to need to contribute its final share until the 2019-20 budget cycle, he added.

Sound Transit hopes to finish the Link expansion by 2022.

Staff writer Candice Ruud contributed to this report.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

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