Options for Link expansion prompt the weighing of potentials

Drop-in sessions for folks looking at potential expansions of Tacoma’s Link Light Rail line are slated for the coming days, but some routes already have their supporters and opponents. Options range from running rail from the North End to downtown, along Hilltop, through the Eastside or along Pacific Highway. The idea now is to gauge potential rider information as well as ponder what economic impact the various routes would have. Money discussions would come later. The 1.6 mile Tacoma Link light rail line from the Tacoma Dome Station to the Theater District currently serves six stations through downtown with trains running every 12 minutes. The year-long “alternatives analysis” effort to look at routes to expand with either an extensions of the existing line or separate tracks elsewhere in the city has left the station in an effort to have one route determined for further study. This initial work will also produce a project financing plan that will identify committed and potential funding sources.

“This project will need substantial federal grant funding to be built,” the report stated. “The goal of the alternatives analysis process is to identify those alternatives which are most promising before beginning formal environmental review.” The criteria for grant dollars includes: ridership, partnership funding, impacts on low-income and minority communities and economic potentials. It’s those factors that drive the financial train. The next meetings are set for: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 10, at the Tully's in Stadium District, 24 N. Tacoma Ave., and again from 4-6 p.m. that day at the Forza Coffee Company, 317 S. 72nd St. Another open house is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 11, at the STAR Center Lobby, 3873 S. 66th St. An online open house is set for 5:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 through Sound Transit. Registration is required to access the online meeting, available through the project’s page at http://SoundTransit.org.

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