Tacoma Urbanist

Apr. 2, 2008 at 12:14am

Stadium District, Sierra Club Backing Tacoma Streetcars


Sierra Club Letter to Sound Transit: Expand Tacoma Streetcar Network



In a letter to Sound Transit, Mike O'Brien, Cascade Chapter Chair of the Sierra Club writes:

"Added service in the existing South Corridor Sounder commuter rail line makes more effective use of existing investments in stations and rolling stock."

"Sierra Club supports extension of Tacoma Link to the Tacoma Community College campus... Further extension of the Tacoma Link system... are also worth consideration after the T.C.C. extension is funded [if land use policies are appropriate]."

"More frequent express bus service along the I-5 corridor between Lakewood and Sea-Tac Airport will... complement Sounder service through the Valley communities."


4/2/2008: Stadium Business District Now Supports Tacoma Streetcar Expansion in Next Sound Transit Ballot Measure:

Early Wednesday morning, I received the below press release from Tacoma Streetcar concerning Stadium Business District's support of the expansion of Tacoma Streetcar in the next Sound Transit ballot measure:

For Immediate Release

April 2, 2008

Contact:

Morgan Alexander

Tacoma Streetcar

Phone: 253-228-7271

Email: hq@tacomastreetcar.org

Stadium Business District Supports Sound Transit LINK Extension
Ballot Measure


(Tacoma, WA) - Tacoma's Stadium Business District has announced its
support of a future proposed ballot measure which includes an
extension of the downtown LINK streetcar.

In a letter to Sound Transit officials, business district Chair, Denny Faker, stated, "It is understood that in order to get out of downtown, any route
extension would most likely pass through the Stadium District.

We are excited about the prospects this brings as it would connect our goods
and services directly with downtown. We see wider benefits too by
having the ability for youth attending Stadium High School to have
more transportation choices." Copies of the letter were sent to Sound
Transit, the City of Tacoma, and Tacoma Streetcar.

Last month, two neighborhood councils reaffirmed their support for a
city-wide streetcar network and the desire to see a LINK extension on
the next Sound Transit Ballot measure. In his letter to Sound Transit,
Jonathan Phillips, Chair of the North End Neighborhood Council, wrote,
"With the Failure of Proposition 1, we support Sound Transit placing
an intracity streetcar network within the city and believe that this
must be in the next Sound Transit proposal with prompt funding."

Tacoma Streetcar sent a letter to Sound Transit in early February
urging a 2008 ballot measure. In it, Tacoma Streetcar requested that
any Sound Transit proposal contain an extension of Tacoma's LINK and
that it be constructed with an aggressive timeline, as opposed to 25
years as contained in the previous ballot measure which failed.

To learn more about Tacoma Streetcar, please visit
www.tacomastreetcar.org

###

For media inquiries please contact Morgan Alexander, Board President
at 253-228-7271 or Andrew Austin, Board Secretary at 253-732-9434

______________

Commentary:


With the addition of the backing of the Seattle based Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Stadium Business District with the great number of other neighborhood groups, it is clear that including streetcars in the next Sound Transit ballot measure makes environmental, business and political sense.

For more information about all of the Sound Transit issues up to date, see the Bus Stops Here post at the Tribune.

comments [8]  |  posted under tacoma

Comments

by Twisty on 4/2/2008 @ 5:52am
I'm curious, Erik... has anybody in the pro-streetcar camp given any thought to the problem of mis-matched technologies that Sound Transit has set up?

As it stands today, Tacoma LINK will need a major retrofit before it can connect to Central LINK, because the trains run on different voltages. So, it makes a great deal of sense to make those changes at the same time that any expansion of Tacoma LINK is completed. The amount of work involved is not insignificant, and the existing trains will have to be replaced.

It is unfortunate that Tacoma starts out in the hole this way, but this must be addressed sooner rather than later or Tacoma will wind up with a system that is not inter-operable with the rest of the region.

by Erik on 4/2/2008 @ 9:41am
I'm curious, Erik... has anybody in the pro-streetcar camp given any thought to the problem of mis-matched technologies that Sound Transit has set up?

Yes. There are many variations of a "streetcar" and Tacoma Streetcar has indicated that extending the LINK service would be an acceptable form of a streetcar.

I think that is why they have been trying to be as general as possible in that regard.

by NSHDscott on 4/2/2008 @ 12:19pm
The more support the better, so that's great news. I got an email from Julie Anderson a few days ago in response to my pro-streetcar letter to the editor that was published that is rather discouraging. She said:

Letter was well-done and appreciated. Unfortunately, we are losing this battle. I am the only member of the pierce county caucus of the ST Board who supports Tacoma link extension.

by thriceallamerican on 4/2/2008 @ 12:31pm
Interesting...maybe we need to figure out a way to get the "Pierce County caucus of the ST Board" representative of the interests of Tacoma and Pierce County.

Granting that increased express bus and Sounder service also offer huge benefits to the area in terms of connecting us regionally–and I'm presuming that these are the solutions favored by said caucus–it's hard not to believe that there isn't some extent to which King County interests have strong-armed how Pierce County fits into the overall plan.

I'm glad Julie Anderson is at least attempting to go to bat for us on intra-county transportation, rather than concentrating solely on inter-county transportation...

by Erik on 4/2/2008 @ 12:34pm
Letter was well-done and appreciated. Unfortunately, we are losing this battle. I am the only member of the pierce county caucus of the ST Board who supports Tacoma link extension.

Sad. Right now, it looks as if various Seattle pro-transit and environmental groups are more supportive of Tacoma Streetcars than some of the local leaders.

Oh well. At least someone is trying something somewhere.

The Tribune's piece on it was good in that it was trying to get Tacoma's fair share from Seattle. A good approach when one is discussing such terms as felon placement rate.

Unfortunately, the output measure needs to be what is good for Tacoma not necessarily what Seattle is getting or not getting.. In this case, having LINK extended is preferable for Tacoma dollar for dollar.

We will see if what comes out from Sound Transit is worth voting for. If the Sierra Club and Tacoma oppose it, it is going to be DOA.

by Twisty on 4/2/2008 @ 6:44pm
Well... I'm not convinced that Sound Transit is the ONLY way to get streetcars. And besides, ST is quite probably **not the best way** to get streetcars.

Right now, ST happens to be in the light rail business -- so it seems logical to put them in charge of this. But IMHO, ST's approach to putting in a system is not cost-effective.

Consider Nick's map of how things were back in the glory days of Tacoma's streetcar system: ( maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ms... )
(And try not to be ill when you think about the FABULOUS streetcar network that we tore out.)
That system wasn't built with ballot measures or taxation schemes. It was built by private dollars searching for profitable investment, under auspices of government franchise arrangements -- much like today's cable TV operations.

Thus, when Tacoma's original streetcar lines were built, they didn't blow vast sums of money on the beautification of entire neighborhoods, as we see with Sound Transit.

So, I think what we should be pushing for is LINK Lite. More tracks and trains... less cobblestones and fancy light posts. But that's not how ST does it -- they are running a make-work program for construction contractors. That's not what we want or need in Tacoma.

by Erik on 4/2/2008 @ 8:00pm
So, I think what we should be pushing for is LINK Lite. More tracks and trains... less cobblestones and fancy light posts.

I am sure any reasonable form of a streetcar would be acceptable to TS.

by michael g on 4/2/2008 @ 9:59pm
It can't really surprise anyone that Lakewood and Sumner members of the ST Board (half the "Pierce County caucus") don't support a streetcar downtown Tacoma to TCC (at best) over better regional service. Why would they want to give Tacoma its vanity streetcar line when they don't get the equivalent? (Not that there's anything wrong with a vanity streetcar line. I want one, but I'd also like to see bus rapid transit or light rail to the airport/Central Link). John Ladenburg, the other member of the County caucus, is harder to figure out...