Stopped by Freighthouse Square yesterday to an open house put on my SoundTransit for folks to see the current ideas about how to get the Sounder from Tacoma to Lakewood. Here's a few points I gathered from the handouts, renderings, and staff on-hand.
- the preferred route will run track over Pacific and along the north side of S. Tacoma Way (STW)
- the track, for environmental reasons, won't carry heavy freight but may eventually share with Amtrak
- most business owners in and around the Dome District are most concerned with being cut off from STW
- A Street between 25th and 26th will be closed to vehicle traffic because the track will need to begin gaining elevation early to make it up the hill -- A Street will be open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic (there goes my shortcut home from work!)
- There will be a South Tacoma Station around 56th Street in addition to one in Lakewood
My thoughts are pretty positive on this but I'll share with you my conclusions from what I learned above and the workshopped notes hanging on the walls from local business owners and stakeholders.
- going over Pacific is much wiser than trenching the track under due mostly to the type of barrier and the danger of having a large open pit (see Reno comparison images below)
- my preference would be to run the track on the nearly completely business-less south side of STW to avoid cutting businesses off on the north side
- con of that is it would mean one more train crossing but I contend that a train crossing presents only a temporary, periodic barrier to commerce while a non-crossable track on the north side presents a permanent hardship to businesses over there
- I truly think that any raised track and overpass need to be designed to let light through and/or be adorned with artwork that is welcoming to traffic coming down the Pacific hill -- this will become a new gateway into Tacoma and it needs to look inviting and thoughtful
For some renderings of what things might look like as well as all the notes posted from that workshop have a look below.
The top purple loop line is the proposed loop (Hood Street Loop or HSL in the workshop notes) for getting traffic to business cut off by the track (light blue line), and the lower purple line is S. Tacoma Way re-routed to emerge on Pacific at 27th