Next stop for downtown Link light rail? 11th and Commerce

Tacoma City Council approved a purchase resolution Tuesday that clears the way for two new Link light rail stations this summer. The purchase resolution awards a $389,312 contract to Westwater Construction Co. of Auburn to build two new north- and south-bound stations, which will include 40-foot-long, seven-feet wide platforms, security cameras, and shelter for waiting passengers on Commerce Street between South 11th Street and South 12th Street. Currently, there are no stops between South Ninth Street and South 15th Street. Downtown stakeholders have pushed for a long time for the City and Sound Transit to add a stop along the 1.6-mile line.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, public works traffic engineer Kurtis Kingsolver said construction will begin in mid-April and be completed by June 11. Costs related to construction and maintenance are funded through Limited Tax General Obligation bonds.

Adding a new stop, 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 station will also permanently relocate two loading zone stalls on Commerce Street about a half-block away. It’s an issue that concerned Councilmember Marty Campbell because the stalls are located near a bank, tea shop, restaurant, and Tacoma School of the Arts. “[Are] there other opportunities for parking for people who wanted to visit those retail businesses?” asked Councilmember Campbell. “Is this a temporary transfer?”

“The difficulty with this project was when you’re building a transit stop — a Link stop — like this in a new street, you can design the street to accommodate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” explained Kingsolver. “We’re doing the opposite of that. The track was already there. So it was difficult to find a location in these parameters — in the area we wanted it — with the driveways and the crown of the road to meet the ADA. Realistically, this is the only location on the side of the street that met the requirement. Everything got designed around that. Working with Pierce Transit and meeting their needs, they needed 105 [feet] for their stops and that’s why you had to put this location for the Link stop, put this location for Pierce Transit, and then it was kind of what was leftover.”

Kingsolver added that most of the construction will occur during off-hours and “all of the sidewalks will be kept clear during the day, and really at night is when the construction will happen.”

On Sept. 14, 2010, City Council approved a resolution directing City Manager Eric Anderson to collaborate with Sound Transit to finalize the 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. In turn, On Sept. 23, Sound Transit Board of Directors directed staff to negotiate terms with the City.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage, click on the following links:

Tacoma City Council votes today on new Link light rail stations (03/22/11) —

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) —