A sense of inevitability took over today when the Tacoma City Council heard Sound Transit officials pitch the agency’s plans for crossing the Dome District with Sounder trains.
After Sound Transit Chair John Ladenburg – whose day job is Pierce County executive – explained why building light rail to Lakewood wasn’t feasible – for both cost and technical reasons – the council started focusing on how to make sure Sound Transit “does it right” when it builds its long-promised commuter rail line to South Tacoma and Lakewood.
Council members Jake Fey and Julie Anderson – the latter sits on the Sound Transit board – asked City Manager Eric Anderson to work up general “terms of agreement” with Sound Transit that would spell out the city’s design goals for the Dome District crossing.
In recent weeks, Dome District business leaders and Tacoma architect Jim Merritt have sought to delay the route decision, contending that the Sounder line would cut the district in half and stunt its development.
But Ladenburg and Sound Transit Director Joni Earl – both Tacoma residents – vowed the agency would work closely with the city on route design to minimize the impact on the district. But Ladenburg made it clear that Sound Transit isn’t going to delay the Tacoma-to-Lakewood project any longer. The Sound Transit board is schedule to act Dec. 13 on the final route alignment.
I thought Earl scored points when she noted that “if we were starting with a clean slate,” the corridor up South Tacoma Way to Lakewood is not where the city would want a light-rail line. Ladenburg noted that commuter rail is for city-to-city service, while light rail is best for local, “cluster to cluster” routes.