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Yet another “hybrid” alternative emerges as Sound Transit schedules April 11 open house on potential extensions for Tacoma Link

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on March 29, 2013 at 11:58 am |
March 29, 2013 1:37 pm

Sound Transit announced today that it has scheduled an open house on April 11 so the public can weigh in on two new “hybrid corridors” among five potential routes to expand Tacoma Link.

Tacoma LinkAs we wrote last week, Tacoma city officials formally asked the regional transit authority to include a new “hybrid corridor” proposal in its analysis of potential Link extension options.

Now, in a press release issued today, Sound Transit says it’s also “evaluating another `hybrid’ corridor suggested by members of a citizens’ stakeholder roundtable group that convened as part of the alternatives analysis for the project.”

Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said Friday she didn’t immediately have details about the latest hybrid proposal.  We’ll update this post as those details become available.

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.   Reason said the second “hybrid corridor” alternative that the statekholder group asked Sound Transit to  study “would combine portions of the C1 (Eastside) and E1 (North Downtown Central) corridors, to serve lower Portland Avenue and the Stadium District, and points beyond.”

No maps or graphics for the second hybrid are yet available, Reason said.

Officials for Sound Transit had been set to recommend to the City Council on April 2 three route alternatives that had emerged from extensive study of six Link extension alternatives. The three preferred routes included the so-called C1 Eastside route, the B1 North End Central option and the E1 North Downtown Central corridor.

The council’s suggested hybrid corridor incorporates parts of the E2 North Downtown Central corridor and the C1 Eastside route. (Maps of all six routes can be found here).

The additional analyses of the hybrid options has pushed back a presentation on the remaining choices to the City Council to April 16.  Meantime, the Sound Transit Board, which will make the final decision,  may not take action on the preferred extension route until May.

A group of transit supporters led by blogger Chris Karnes is set to hold its own public “rally to move forward on Tacoma Link.”  Karnes and his supporters contend the city’s 11th hour request for further analysis on the hybrid option is unnecessarily politicizing and delaying a long in-the-works public process to pick an extension alternative.

Here’s Sound Transit’s press release with details about the upcoming open house:

 Sound Transit to host open house on Tacoma Link expansion

Public invited to review and comment on additional corridor alternatives

Sound Transit will conduct an open house on Thursday, April 11 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome Station, 424 East 25th Street. The event is part of an alternatives analysis to seek public input on additional corridor alternatives for a potential project to expand the 1.6-mile Tacoma Link system that now operates between the Tacoma Dome and Theater District stations.

The open house follows a request by the City of Tacoma for Sound Transit to evaluate a “hybrid” corridor as the agency prepares to identify one or more corridor alternatives that could potentially advance to the environmental phase of the project. In addition to the city’s corridor alternative, Sound Transit is evaluating another “hybrid” corridor suggested by members of a citizens’ stakeholder roundtable group that convened as part of the alternatives analysis for the project. At the meeting, the public will have the opportunity to comment on five corridor alternatives currently under consideration.

Once the analysis of the five corridor alternatives is complete, staff will present to the Sound Transit Board of Directors recommendations for selecting the preferred corridor alternative(s) that will advance for further study in the environmental review phase of the project. While the board is prepared to take action as early as April, the additional work required to evaluate the hybrid alternatives and compare them against other corridor alternatives may require shifting board action to May.

A potential partnership to expand Tacoma Link was approved by voters in 2008 as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The purpose of the expansion is to improve mobility and access to the regional transit system by connecting the existing Tacoma Link system with the city’s major employment, residential and activity centers.

Sound Transit is seeking federal monies and exploring options for securing additional funding partners for the expansion. The alternatives analysis underway supports efforts to narrow and define project alternatives, evaluate costs, benefits and impacts of the alternatives, and work to identify partners and develop a funding plan.

More information on the project can be found at www.soundtransit.org/tacomalinkexpansion.

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