Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 28, 2008 at 12:05am

Momentum Building For Tacoma Streetcars, Against Roads

The Tacoma News Tribune via the blog The Bus Stops Here reports on the growing momentum in favor of a streetcar system in Tacoma on the local and state level.  The blog is run by Andrew Austin who works for the Washington State legislature.

He has submitted two posts:

On January 22, 2007:

A transit oriented bill was dropped today in the State Legislature. It is house bill 3068.

There are no analyzing documents or reports explaining the bill online. From a first read through it appears as though House Bill 3068 is giving local authorities a new mechanism to provide transit. This new taxing and transit providing authority is called a "high-capacity transit corridor area".

On January 27th:

The Tacoma Streetcar continues to receive widespread support from across the community. Recently the North End Neighborhood Council endorsed the plan.

Streetcars might very well be one of the most important investments that will help Tacoma become the city we all want it to be.

(Letter of the NENC support streetcars)


Nice to see more momentum for streetcars in Tacoma.  Seattle and other cities are building streetcar systems.

Yet, there is even more support for streetcars in Tacoma than Austin cites.

City Manager Andersons transportation and parking plan also calls for the implementation of streetcars.  See page 9.  Also, the Transit and Parking Advisory Committee has recommended implementing streetcars.

Tacoma and Pierce County have wasted much of their public funds for remote suburban road developments in the last 40 years with disasterous results necessitating the legislature to pass the Growth Management Act.

It has caused a dispersion of development in a entropic explosion throughout Pierce County resulting in a disinvestment in Tacoma and huge road system to subsidize ever more remote housing developments which is now commonly accepted as unsustainable.

Suburban road development artificially makes remote houising cheap compared to areas closer to urban areas by making multimillion dollar roads "free" to them while creating many externalized costs.

We now have traffic congestion, excess pollution in the city and many people have long commutes. More roads would simply continue to make the problem worse and waste even more money.  Plus, the development pattern is going to be increasingly harder to maintain with global warming concerns and rising gas prices.

The next funding package for transportation should focus on rebuilding infrastucture of urban areas such as Tacoma in the form of streetcars.  Tacomans need not feel obligated to susbsidize the next wave of suburban sprawl.  Pierce County is considered the worst in the state.

Here is a Sierra Club statement on the issue:

Suburban sprawl -- defined as irresponsible, often poorly-planned development that destroys green space, increases traffic and air pollution, crowds schools and drives up taxes -- is a major concern for Americans across the country. And, increasingly, the impact of population growth on suburban sprawl has become a topic of discussion and debate.

Subsidies and Population Growth: The self-fulfilling Cycle

A growing body of research shows that many communities are subsidizing new development in the form of new roads, water and sewer lines, schools, and emergency services.(6) Communities are also subsidizing growth by offering incentives to new businesses or industries that locate there, often sacrificing tax revenues needed to serve existing residents and businesses.

For more information see:

Tacoma Streetcars web site.  For a great video clip on the issue, see End of Suburbia movie trailer

comments [6]  |  posted under tacoma, Washington. pierce county sprawl


by andrew.austin on 1/28/2008 @ 7:12am
Great movie trailor! Has anyone seen it?

by KevinFreitas on 1/28/2008 @ 7:21am
Yea, that looks like it could be pretty powerful. Very true though and I hope Tacoma paves the way for streetcars soon.

by Erik on 1/28/2008 @ 12:31pm
Yea, that looks like it could be pretty powerful. Very true though and I hope Tacoma paves the way for streetcars soon.

Using the Feed Tacoma abilities, I embedded the video.

by NineInchNachos on 1/28/2008 @ 5:58pm
Tacoma Streetcar should hold their montly meetings at the old spaghetti factory... in the street car. yuk yuk

by Erik on 1/28/2008 @ 6:06pm
Tacoma Streetcar should hold their montly meetings at the old spaghetti factory... in the street car. yuk yuk

Hmmm. I wonder if that one is salvageable.

by Erik on 2/5/2008 @ 4:50pm
Today, the Seattle Times indicates that 6 new street car lines are being proposed:

City to study six new streetcar lines

The city will study six new streetcar lines, in addition to the existing South Lake Union line, which opened in December.

The feasibility study, which the Seattle City Council's Transportation Committee approved Tuesday morning, will consider factors like ridership, utility issues and possibly traffic conflicts. It would cost $375,000, and results of the study would be complete by May 1.


Is Tacoma ready to come up to speed?