‘Like having a sold-out event at the Tacoma Dome every day for eternity.’ Group preps for mass transit

Tacoma’s Dome District can expect some major development projects and a flood of new people in the coming years.

Sound Transit is building two new stations for its Tacoma Dome Link Extension project.

Pierce Transit will extend its Bus Rapid Transit to the Dome.

The city is embarking on a project to spruce up the Puyallup Avenue corridor.

Meanwhile, a new group will be trying to make sure the area doesn’t end up a congested nightmare.

The city of Tacoma touts the group as the state’s first Transit-Oriented Development Advisory Group. It puts residents, business owners and other community members at the planning table with transit agencies.

Their job? Share thoughts and ideas on design and infrastructure planning for transit-oriented development, or high-density residential and commercial development built near transit hubs.

“There’s just so many dollars involved, and so we feel like there’s a lot at stake for not getting it right,” said Janice McNeal, president of the Dome Business District and a member of the group.

Sound Transit’s Tacoma Dome Link Extension project, budgeted around $2 billion as part of voter-approved ST3, is projected to have more than 20,000 riders per day after completion in 2030.

“That would be like having a sold-out event at the Tacoma Dome every day for eternity,” said City Councilman Robert Thoms. “We need to make sure that we don’t have our entire gateway into our community snarled.”

Thoms sponsored the resolution to launch the advisory group. The first meeting was held Tuesday.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us in elected office, be it at the local level or state level, to make sure that we’re giving a voice to those that we represent,” Thoms said at the meeting.

Representatives from Sound Transit and Pierce Transit plan to present at future meetings about their local projects.

State Transportation Committee Chairman and Representative Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, was present at the meeting and said the state Legislature will be putting together a transportation package in the next few years.

“When we’re ready, there will be an opportunity to do projects again, so it would be good to have something in this area,” Fey said.

One of the top priorities to be discussed is the location of the Tacoma Dome Link Extension stations. Members of the advisory group will weigh in on whether to place the stations on East 25th Street or East 26th Street.

Sound Transit is limited to where the stations can be placed, said spokesman Scott Thompson, but said the agency is looking forward to working with the group.

“These (stations) are structures that will be there well into the future, so we want to make sure we do it right the first time,” Thompson said.