USA, Tacoma Link Light Rail Extension Receives Small Starts Grant

USA, Tacoma Link Light Rail Extension Receives Small Starts Grant :Congress today approved legislation to fund the federal government in Fiscal Year 2016, including $74.99 million in Small Starts funding for extending the Tacoma Link light rail line.

The funding comes through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program. Other project funding includes tax revenues from the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure, grants secured by Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma, a partner on the project and other local funds. The City will identify an additional $7 million to complete its $40 million contribution to the project.

United States Senator Patty Murray stated: “As the region continues to grow, projects such as Tacoma Link will be the key to connecting our neighborhoods, creating new jobs, strengthening our economy, easing congestion and providing safe, reliable transit for students, workers and families.”

According to Congressman Derek Kilmer “the expansion of light rail will better connect all corners of Tacoma, help residents and visitors alike get around and make Tacoma an even more vibrant place.”

Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine said: “As a major urban center, Tacoma needs 21st century infrastructure to keep pace with its growing economy and our growing region.”

Sound Transit Board Vice-Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said she was “thrilled federal funding for the Tacoma Link Expansion is approved”.

Completed in 2003, the existing 2.6 km light rail line serves six stations between the Theater District and the Tacoma Dome:

Tacoma Dome
South 25th
Union Station
Convention Center
Commerce Street
Theater District
usa-tacoma-link-light-rail-extension-receives-small-starts-grant
The line is served by 3 partially low-floor articulated Škoda 10 T rail cars.

Trains run every 12 minutes and provide nearly a million rides per year. The service is currently free of charge, but a $1.50 fare will be collected beginning in September 2016. Youths, seniors and disabled passengers will pay a reduced fare.

The 3.8 km extension will run from the current northern terminus by the Pantages Theater along Stadium Way, North First Street, Division Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the Hilltop District. It will include one relocated station and six new stations. It will have an expanded Tacoma Operations and Maintenance Facility next to the existing maintenance facility and four power substations.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018. The new line won’t open until 2021, at the earliest. According to Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason it will take three to five years to build and test the extension before passenger service begins. CH2M Hill is looking after the preliminary engineering.

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Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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