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Sounder route fight heats up

Post by David Seago on Nov. 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm |
November 26, 2007 6:44 pm

This is the crossing Sound Transit would like to build in order to extend Sounder commuter rail service from Freighthouse Square to Lakewood. The view looks south, showing the crossing just north of the intersection of Pacific Avenue and South Tacoma Way.

The image shows the preferred alternative that Sound Transit officials will discuss with the Tacoma City Council at a noon study session Tuesday. Pacific Avenue would be lowered to pass under the bridged track carrying Sounder trains up the hill south of the Tacoma Rescue Mission, instead of going up South Tacoma Way as Sound Transit originally proposed.

The Sound Transit board is scheduled to make a final decision on the route across Pacific Avenue on Dec. 13.

The route issue is getting heated. Tacoma architect Jim Merritt and Dome District business leaders, including the CEO of the Brown & Haley candy firm, contend a heavy-rail line through the Dome district would be a long-term planning disaster for the district. Sound Transit should use light-rail to connect to Lakewood, they told us in an editorial board meeting last week.

Today, top Sound Transit planners told the ed board that building light-rail to Lakewood would cost four to five times as much commuter rail, and there’s no money for that. They also contended that commuter rail, offering a “one-ticket, one-seat” service all the way to Seattle was promised the voters in 1996.

The political dynamics of the dispute are intense. Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg is Sound Transit chairman, and Councilwoman Julie Anderson is Tacoma’s representative on the Sound Transit board. Both strongly back the Sounder extension and the preferred alternative.

Click here to see a map of the planned Sounder corridor from Tacoma to Lakewood and potentially to Dupont.

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