May. 30, 2008 at 11:21am

Why the Elks + Pierce Transit = Good News

My take on the latest development...

After Exit133 posted up news about a possible future for the Elks building, a handful of comments expressed concern that this would move the 'bus people' crowd from 10th & Commerce to the Elks building. Many were concerned this would result in an inappropriate use for the building, and that a better use is out there somewhere.

I can certainly identify with the worrisome comments about ‘bus people’ creating a not-so-friendly environment in a new facility like this, but perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way.

The reason the 10th & Commerce area always feels so unpleasant is because there is such a high concentration of disruptive behavior with little else to balance it out. In fact, between 9th and 10th on commerce, there is no other reason to be on that street. It's also important to note that the people everyone is always complaining about are actually in the minority. I used to take the bus to get everywhere, and most people go to 10th & Commerce to get on a bus an leave. The problem is with the people that don't get on a bus and instead hang around for most of the day.

Moving all this to a new location surrounded with mixed-use spaces for retail, offices, and living spaces would be a major improvement. This situation would actually dilute this current group of people. So instead of 20 or 30 weirdos harassing bus patrons, and dealers standing on the corner, we could have say 30 retail patrons, no drug dealers, and a social atmosphere that would discourage the remaining 20 weirdos from hanging around and creating an unpleasant environment. Plus it would be easier for TPD/BIA to secure and manage.

So the nutshell version? This would effectively diffuse the causes for the 10th & Commerce unpleasantness, improve Tacoma’s urban environment, and make taking the bus from/to downtown less daunting. Are there any other advantages/disadvantages that I haven't thought of?

comments [12]  |  posted under downtown, elks building, tacoma


by Twisty on 5/30/2008 @ 11:46am
Disadvantage: no bulk parking available nearby.
Disadvantage: the Spanish Steps will likely be ruined by the "Spanish Wheelchair Ramp".
Disadvantage: streets in the area are ill-suited for the influx of traffic, and are not suitable for buses.
Disadvantage: PT's substantial investment in Commerce St. will be squandered.

Should I go on? I could, you know.

by Nick on 5/30/2008 @ 1:54pm
I think it's worth weighing the advantages against the disadvantages - it's the only practical way to decide whether or not the proposed idea is worthwhile. So please, go on to your heart's content! :-)

I'd say if PT is willing to release its investment in Commerce, let them do it. Using past investment to justify continued pursuit of a bad idea is a weak argument at best. The current design simply does not work, and has created circumstances that are unacceptable. I want better for Tacoma, and I think Tacoma deserves better.

This doesn't mean we have to do this Elks thing, but it does mean the downtown public transit infrastructure needs a serious fundamental overhaul.

by Puyallupmomma on 5/30/2008 @ 2:30pm
I know it is a bit late, but Pierce Transit will be holding a Special Meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Friday, May 30, at 2:30 p.m. in the Rainier Room. The topic of discussion will be possible partnership opportunity. A Finance Committee meeting will immediately follow.

(from their website)

It is open to the public.

by KevinFreitas on 5/30/2008 @ 2:32pm

Shame such a meeting regarding this important of an issue isn't held at a time when us working type could attend. I'm sure we'll hear more about this as it progresses but I certainly hope the public will have some input.

by Chris.Tacoma on 5/31/2008 @ 11:09am
No bulk parking available nearby?
No one uses Park Plaza North as a park and ride. It is almost completely divorced from the transit center and the freaking cars that come out of the garage during rush hour just clog Commerce so neither the buses, nor light rail, nor the SOV commuters seem to go anywhere very fast.

by Twisty on 5/31/2008 @ 11:43am
I'm pretty sure that Park Plaza North is too far away to be of any real use to the Elks Lodge.

There is a Diamond lot just south of the Lodge that will be converted into a bus turnaround and boarding zone. The proposal as described does include a parking garage to the north of the Lodge (so I stand corrected as to what I wrote above), but my understanding is that this garage will be directly across from the ramp to I-705.

If you think the mess on Commerce is bad, just imagine the mess that will be created by the convergence of the parking garage, traffic coming downhill on Stadium Way, and the ramp. I suspect that left turns from the garage to northbound Stadium Way will have to be blocked off, and there can be little doubt that a backup will frequently develop at the intersection with the ramp. Add to this the comings and goings of buses turning into and out of the transit center, and it's not a pretty picture.

Bottom line: this thing is going to attract WAY more traffic than the area can handle, even with extensive modifications.

by tacoma1 on 5/31/2008 @ 11:50am
One big advantage that I see, that no one mentioned previously......................it would mean at the last stop for the 594 from Seattle would be about a block from Puget Sound Pizza. Easy access to good grub makes the whole deal sound nice to me.

Seriously though, the Commerce bus hub is a big deterrent to using public transit currently. If transit is safe and convenient, people will be more inclined to use it. I always try to avoid that area as it is now. This area is a economic dead zone, as is the Elks building. Anything to put these areas to a productive use should be examined. I can see possibilities and potential in this. I am anxious to hear more details.

by Erik on 5/31/2008 @ 12:57pm
If the station was designed right at the Elks Temple it could work very well. Yes, transit areas do have extra security concerns and often have police substations in them.

NYC has their own separate transit police. They need to use the best practices for integrating all of the elements but in the end it certainly could be a benefit for the Elks Temple and the increased functionality of the Spanish Steps.

by fredo on 6/2/2008 @ 8:24am
If this property is such hot one for public use...then why didn't the government buy it when it was available cheap? Now we'll lease back a portion of it at a greatly inflated price. Wow, there's Tacoma at it's finest.

Incidently, I think Twisty has outlined the problems with the Elks. Case closed.

by Heather on 6/3/2008 @ 10:58pm
Advantage: the Spanish steps will be restored
Advantage: a parking garage on this end of the Link
Advantage: a safe, dry place to wait for the bus, out of the wind.
Advantage: commuters that are currently driving through dowtown Tacoma to the Tacoma Dome Station will be able to park on the side of town closer to their homes, potentially lightening traffic on Pacific and 705
Advantage: Commerce Street (at 10th, etc.), with it's central location, will be available for a hotel, business office complex, or a permanent farmers' market.

Should I go on? I could you know.

by Twisty on 6/3/2008 @ 11:03pm
The Spanish Steps will be restored regardless. Construction was to have started already, but is delayed by negotiations with Diamond Parking for access.

by Heather on 6/4/2008 @ 10:06am
I stand corrected, on that point. I saw your comment to that effect on another thread after I posted this one.


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