Downtown Tacoma's new link light rail stations could open in July

Two new Link light rail stations — one northbound, one southbound — along Commerce Street and near South 11th Street are expected to be completed soon, according to City of Tacoma officials, who provided a brief update on the project in the June issue of the City’s “News You Can Use” newsletter. “Construction should be nearing completion by the end of June with operations beginning in July,” report city officials in the newsletter.

The City’s public works department notes ( ) the northbound and southbound platforms are completed, new parking stalls along Commerce Street are finished, and Pierce Transit bus load zones have been extended. Also, construction of the shelters are under way. And brick restoration continues for the southbound platform. Still, public works officials note there could be a potential delay in opening the stations due to a long lead time for components for the train-to-wayside controller cabinet, manufactured in Germany.

Currently, there are no stops between South Ninth Street and South 15th Street. Adding stations northbound and southbound, however, will increase the amount of time it takes for Link to travel between Tacoma Dome Station and Theater District Station from 10 minutes to 12 minutes. The stations also relocated two loading zone stalls on Commerce Street about a half-block away.

The $350,000 project includes 40-foot-long, seven-feet wide platforms, security cameras, and shelter for waiting passengers.

Several downtown stakeholders have pushed for a long time for the City and Sound Transit to add another station along the 1.6-mile line. Tacoma Link began service in August 2003 and currently serves five stops between Tacoma Dome Station and the Theatre District. Last year, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber wrote a letter to councilmembers urging them to build the new stations. “This stop is extremely important to nearby office building tenants and to the overall objective of achieving and maintaining density in the core of the downtown,” wrote Chamber officials in the letter. “It is a project . . . that has merit in our strategies for development and the convenience and availability of transportation options.”

On Sept. 14, 2010, Tacoma City Council approved a resolution that directed the City of Tacoma to collaborate with Sound Transit to finalize a proposal and seek approval from the Sound Transit Board, and to move forward to secure funds for the project once the design is completed and approved. On Sept. 23, 2010, the Sound Transit Board of Directors directed staff to negotiate a term sheet with the City to build the new stations. On April 21, nighttime construction of the stations began.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of the new Link light rail station, click on the following links:

Artists sought for new downtown Tacoma Link light rail station (02/22/11) —

Sound Transit board approves new downtown Link station proposal (09/27/10) —

City Council approves plan for Link light rail station (09/20/10) —

Plan adds new downtown Link light rail stop by next spring (08/31/10) —

City Hall presentation Tuesday on new downtown Tacoma Link light rail stop (08/30/10) —

City envisions Link light rail station near 11th Street (01/08/10) —