UPDATE 7:45 p.m.
The City Council chose a downtown-to-Hilltop route as its preferred choice for extending Tacoma Link.
The council’s choice came after a failed amendment by Councilman Marty Campbell that sought support for a hybrid route that would have included the Hilltop extension plus an additional stub extension along Portland Avenue.
After the amendment failed, 5 to 4, the council voted 8 to 1 in favor of the so-called E1 route — a 2.3 mile corridor connecting downtown to MLK via Stadium Way. The council’s recommendation will be sent to the Sound Transit board, which is expected to make the final decision on an extension route on May 23.
With Tacoma’s City Council set to formally consider choosing a downtown-to-Hilltop route tonight as its preferred option for extending Tacoma Link, a stakeholders’ group has expressed its own top choice: the so-called H2 hybrid.
That’s a different route than the extension option that a majority of the council signaled would be the body’s recommended choice during a discussion last week. Led by Mayor Marilyn Strickland, six council members tentatively voiced support for the North Downtown Central corridor — the so-called E1 route — as their preferred alternative.
Members of the Stakeholder Roundtable, as the 21-member group is formally known, recently provided a summary of recommendations to both the council and Sound Transit for consideration. According to the document, members of the group — which last met April 20 to review Sound Transit’s cost analyses of two proposed hybrid routes — “expressed support for three different alternatives.”
“The most frequently mentioned alternative was the `hybrid’ of E1 and C1 alternatives—H-2,” the summary states. “There were a few members who preferred E1 without the addition of the C1; or conversely C1 without any northern extension.”
The 3.2 mile H-2 route, which was only recently studied by Sound Transit at the suggestion of the stakeholders group, includes all 2.3 miles of the E1 Hilltop corridor, as well as a 0.9 mile portion of the 2.3 mile Eastside corridor (C1).
When included in the hyrbid route, the C1 stub would run between the Tacoma Dome Station and East 29th Street. In all, the hybrid route would cost an estimated $179.5 million — nearly $30 million more than the $150 million estimate planners have targeted proposals to remain competitive for federal grant funding.
Earlier this afternoon, Councilman Marty Campbell — who last week unsuccessfully argued a case for the C1 Eastside corridor — said he planned to float a proposal tonight backing the H2 route.
“I wouldn’t draft (a proposal) if I didn’t have a hope and didn’t think it was the right thing to do,” Campbell told me today.
Last week, Campbell said a spokesman for the Puyallup Indian Tribe told him the tribe would be willing to contribute as much as $12 million, plus potentially available tribal grant money, to the Link extension — so long as the chosen route made it up Portland Avenue to the vicinity of the tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino. A spokesman for the tribe, which recently announced its plans to expand the casino, last week disputed that the tribe has made a funding commitment for the project.
At least four council members have express some level of support for the H2. Could the stakeholders’ recommendation — plus the tribe’s support for funding — help persuade at least one other member to back the H2 hybrid route?
The answer will come tonight.