Tacoma Link construction on schedule

Citizens, affected business owners and project officials turned out this morning at Harmon Brewery & Restaurant for an update on construction of the Tacoma Link rail project. When completed, the 1.6-mile line will connect downtown Tacoma and the transit hub at the Tacoma Dome Station, providing free rides from the Tacoma Dome Station into downtown for a projected 2,000 passengers per day by 2010. Tacoma Link is scheduled to begin service in 2003.
Until then, however, area residents, commuters and business owners are having to contend with the traffic snarls and effects on commerce that are a part of constructing the light rail line.
Tacoma Link construction is going on as follows, according to Sound Transit:
Rail work along 25th Street
Track is currently being laid across A Street and toward Pacific Avenue. Work on curbs, gutters and sidewalks has begun on the south side of 25th Street between G Street and the Operations and Maintenance facility at McKinley Avenue. The area between A and D streets is being prepared for re-paving. The surface has been prepared for traffic use and final paving will await warmer weather.
Corner of 25th and Pacific
A Pacific Avenue detour went into effect Monday, Feb. 4. Once the 25th/A Street intersection is fully opened to traffic, track will be placed around the corner onto Pacific Avenue. At that time a detour will be set up for northbound traffic on Pacific. Traffic will be detoured at 26th Street to A Street, then back to Pacific on Puyallup Avenue (24th). Local access only will remain between 26th and 25th streets on Pacific Avenue.
Pacific Avenue
Curb and gutter modifications along with utility work will begin on Pacific Avenue from 21st Street to 17th Street. Soon the curb bubbles on the east side of Pacific Avenue and median strip will be removed. The tracks are scheduled to reach South 21st Street (along Pacific Avenue) by March. In mid-March between 17th and 21st Street, the angle parking in front of Union Station and the Washington History Museum will be removed.
Commerce Street
Some sanitary sewer installation will need to be done from 15th Street to 13th Street. While this work is taking place there will be some traffic changes. During work hours Commerce Street between 15th and 13th streets may be northbound only. During off-business hours the road will return to two-lane traffic. Merlino Construction Company, is constructing vaulted sidewalks along the east side of Commerce Street between 15th and 13th (working from property located on Pacific Avenue). Equipment is being stored from 15th to 17th streets and on Jefferson Street between Commerce and Pacific Avenue.
Officials said modification work on Pacific Avenue would be less than that on 25th Street.
“We’ll try and stage that work for minimum impact,” Sound Transit resident engineer Marty Spong said.
“It won’t be nearly as congested as it has been,” added Rheul Reedy, project manager with Gary Merlino Construction Company, Sound Transit’s contractor.
Modification work would be limited to cross street intersections and not curb-to-curb, Reedy explained.
Commuters, residents and business owners will encounter more drastic disruptions later, when beginning in early April the corner of 25th Street and Pacific Avenue has to be reconstructed after tracks have been put down.
All of that work could be done in as little as 12 days by double-shifting workers seven days a week, Reedy said, or if that option isn’t selected, it could take up to two months.
“It all depends on what we can work out with the city and WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation,” he said. “It’s dangerous, it’s time-consuming and it’s inconvenient for everyone.”
He downplayed the recent controversy regarding efforts at reaching an agreement with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe for permission to cross its downtown Tacoma tracks on Hood Street, saying that – practically speaking – it wouldn’t stop work on the project.
The next construction update meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Harmon Brewery & Restaurant.