A couple of us had a wide-ranging conversation today with Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson. The most surprising element (for us, at least) was his obviously sincere belief that streetcars will be a reality in Tacoma. That’s certainly the dream of local booster Morgan Alexander and others, but we hadn’t heard a city official talk so unequivocally about their future.
The city wants to secure federal funds to build a $90 million, 3,000 space garage at the regional transit hub by the Tacoma Dome. But federal funds come with a caveat: If the city receives revenue from a park-and-ride facility, it must be used for mass transit. That’s where the streetcars come in.
Anderson envisions two lines, the outlines of which have been previously suggested. One would run up Stadium Way, along Division and out to the Sixth Avenue business district. Another would climb from downtown to the Hilltop, possibly up 11th Avenue, along Tacoma Avenue and eventually traveling to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Anderson believes they could be built for a lot cheaper than the $12 million a mile the city’s LINK cost; he knows of at least one community that put in light rail for $2 million a mile.
Update: These numbers appear to be low. Check the comments for different ones from a council committee handout.