Plan adds new downtown Link light rail stop by next spring

Link light rail riders in downtown Tacoma may soon have the option of boarding and disembarking the train at a new station along Commerce Street.

Public Works traffic engineer Kurtis Kingsolver briefed Tacoma City Councilmembers on the project during council’s noon study session today. According to Kingsolver, platforms will be installed on one side of Commerce Street just north of the 12th Street pedestrian bridge, and on another side of Commerce Street just south of 11th Street. Design plans for the $350,000 project — which includes 40-foot-long, seven-feet wide platforms, security cameras, and shelter for waiting passengers — are 60 per cent complete. Costs related to construction and maintenance are funded through Limited Tax General Obligation (LTGO) bonds. Tacoma City Council and Sound Transit’s Board of Directors will review the plan during separate meetings in September. If all goes as planned, the design for the project will be completed in early-October, bid documents will be completed in late-October, and advertisements for bids will be posted in November. Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2011 and be completed in March 2011

Currently, there are no stops between South Ninth Street and South 15th Street. 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. It’s a move that would reduce per hour the number of people served by Link during morning commutes, evening commutes, and special events. The relatively short length of the new platform, along with the limited space and right-of-way in which to build the new station, prohibits adding another car to the Link system, according to Kingsolver.

Still, several stakeholders, including the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and DaVita have, have pushed for a long time for the City and Sound Transit to add another station along the 1.6-mile line.

“This is great,” said Councilmember Lauren Walker. “I think we have been wanting this for a long time.”

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For earlier Index coverage, click on the following links:

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) —