Tacoma City Council to discuss South J Street sky bridge

At noon on Tues., Feb. 14, Tacoma City Council will hold a study session to receive information about an economic impact study report for housing in Tacoma. The Master Builders Association of Pierce County commissioned the study for housing in Tacoma, Bonney Lake and unincorporated Pierce County, and recently received initial copies of the reports from the National Association of Home Builders Senior Economist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg.

City staff will also brief Council on an ordinance related to the South J Street air rights and scheduled to have its final reading during Tuesday evening’s city council meeting. According to interim Tacoma City Manager Rey Arellano’s Feb. 9 weekly report to City Council ( http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/cityclerk/Files/CityCouncil/CMOWeeklyReport/2012/WklyReport20120209.pdf ), the first reading of the ordinance was in 2007, when Franciscan Health System originally petitioned the City to vacate the air rights for a sky bridge to connect St. Joseph’s Hospital to a future medical office building. The project was put on hold until 2011. Franciscan’s 2011 plans were not substantively different than the initial proposal, according to Arellano’s report, so staff prepared the ordinance for second reading and a proposed substitute ordinance.

“It was at that time that staff recognized a possible conflict if the Sound Transit Link Light Rail is extended,” wrote Arellano in his report. “The sky bridge would be constructed 16.5 feet above the grade. However, Sound Transit typically requires 20 feet of clearance for light rail projects. Sound Transit does not object to the street vacation and indicated that a future light rail project on South J could be constructed under the sky bridge. However, Sound Transit would need to lower the light rail electrical wires which may prohibit vehicle traffic from traveling in a shared lane and turning across the tracks. Thus, construction of the sky bridge may limit access on South J Street by either preventing the construction of light rail south of South 16th Street, or by limiting vehicle access between South 16th and 19th Streets.”

Finally, at the conclusion of Tuesday’s study session, there will be a closed session to discuss labor negotiations.

Tacoma City Council will not take public comment during the meeting, which will be held in the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Room 16. Audio from the session will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and on http://www.tvtacoma.com . On-demand audio archives are available on the Web within 24 hours of the meeting at http://www.tvtacoma.com .