Morgan's Brain

Jun. 2, 2009 at 1:00am

City of Tacoma Talks About Streetcars June 18th

Have you been wondering what's up with Tacoma's future streetcar system or where the millions of dollars Sound Transit is collecting from you RIGHT NOW to fund such a system is going? I have!

Tacoma City Council Member Julie Anderson is hosting an informational forum on Sound Transit's LINK light rail and a potential Tacoma streetcar project. She hopes to provide an update, dispel rumors and take questions.
Date: Thursday, June 18th
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM (revised time)
Location: Tacoma City Hall, 747 Market St

comments [79]  |  posted under tacoma


by Erik on 6/2/2009 @ 1:16am
I thought that the recent Sound Transit package was going to buy Tacoma some streetcar lines.

What happened? When will they start extending the LINK, if ever?

by tacoma1 on 6/2/2009 @ 8:28am
The recent ST package provides matching funds for an extension to Tacoma Link. It is up to our County Exec, and the City of Tacoma to decide what to do and where to go with it.

by dolly varden on 6/2/2009 @ 10:40am
I won't be able to make that meeting, but I hope somebody posts the highlights of the discussion.

by Nick on 6/2/2009 @ 10:44am
It should be interesting to see if any sort of timeline is discussed. Considering the next round of ST projects we voted for are funded primarily with sales tax revenue (correct me if I'm wrong on that one), I imagine almost everything is going to take longer than expected (with the recent plummet in consumer spending).

by NSHDscott on 6/2/2009 @ 1:09pm
I suspect they will look for matching funds to come from private enterprise, and my fear is that it'll be the Puyallups who step up to the plate to extend the Link from the T-Dome to their casino(s). Is it wrong of me to fear that? I'd sure rather the north end of the line gets extended up into the Stadium District (as Morgan's photo mockup shows) and up Division to the 6th Ave hotspot. Seems to me like that would be better for Tacoma, but maybe I'm just biased since I live in that general area and rarely find myself around the casinos. Maybe MultiCare would contribute to have a stop in front of their campus? I hope to attend this presentation.

by morgan on 6/2/2009 @ 1:26pm
NSHDscott: I wouldn't be afraid! There are worse things to be worried about!

Besides tribal money, there is also Federal money coming down the pike that - with a new urban perspective - is matching up transportation funding with HUD funding. Salishan could be a prime target of this funding. This means that the tribe could be just one partner, but if the line gets brought up Portland Avenue, the entire East Side wins. And yes, Multicare, the BILLION dollar non-profit could be an active partner to help bring streetcars to 6th Ave and possibly MLK.

by tacoma1 on 6/2/2009 @ 1:38pm
I wish that I could go also, but will not be able to. I understand that although tax revenues are initially low, the reality is that not much construction has actually started yet. Plus when construction projects do start, those costs will be lower than originally planned.

As far as a potential route, some things to consider are of course whether the route is doable, plus where's the money coming from, and also, from all of the transportation planners that I've talked to, they all tell me that one of the true strengths of street cars and light rail systems is their ability to move lots of people frequently. Therefore I would hope that the route follows along the most congested transit route that we currently have. I can guess that that would be bus route 1, but that is only a guess. Also, if somehow we can get rid of the 10th and commerce bus transfer dead zone in the process, that would be a bonus.

by fredo on 6/2/2009 @ 6:51pm
I don't know how Tacoma's going to come up with any matching funds. We can't even afford asphalt for our potholes. And councilwoman Connie Ladenburg recently compared Tacoma to a family that was going to have to do without.

What galls me about the "matching funds" arrangement is that the funds ST may permit us to have is the same money that Pierce County taxpayers have sent to them. Why should we have to generate matching funds to get our own money back?

by Erik on 6/2/2009 @ 8:37pm
The recent ST package provides matching funds for an extension to Tacoma Link.


It is up to our County Exec, and the City of Tacoma to decide what to do and where to go with it.

Geesh. I hope they have a plan. The best first and easiest route to add on is from downtown to Stadium.

by tacoma1 on 6/3/2009 @ 8:57am
I understand your frustation, but you have to remember that ST is mandated to provide "regional transit" not "local transit".

I also hope that they have a plan, a good plan would even be better.

I was thinking that it is curious that this initial public meeting is being held by Julie Anderson. Maybe someone knows why. Pat McCarthy is our Pierce County Exec and has a seat on the ST Board. Just kinda curious as to what is actually going on...............................

by NineInchNachos on 6/3/2009 @ 9:13am
political theater? I recall that Julie Anderson was maintaining strict radio silence when talk of running a Sound Transit berm through downtown Tacoma was in the public imagination.


by NineInchNachos on 6/3/2009 @ 9:20am
did you guys see this?

(1 of 9 TO DO tasks)

1. Just as President Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the president must tell the nation that we are at war and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass-transit vehicles and alternative-energy devices. Within months in Flint in 1942, GM halted all car production and immediately used the assembly lines to build planes, tanks, and machine guns. The conversion took no time at all. Everyone pitched in. The fascists were defeated.

We are now in a different kind of wara war that we have conducted against the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders. This current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built in the factories of GM, Ford, and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar icecaps. The things we call "cars" may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.

The other front in this war is being waged by the oil companies against you and me. They are committed to fleecing us whenever they can, and they have been reckless stewards of the finite amount of oil that is located under the surface of the earth. They know they are sucking it bone dry. And like the lumber tycoons of the early 20th century who didn't give a damn about future generations as they tore down every forest they could get their hands on, these oil barons are not telling the public what they know to be truethat there are only a few more decades of useable oil on this planet. And as the end days of oil approach us, get ready for some very desperate people willing to kill and be killed just to get their hands on a gallon can of gasoline.

President Obama, now that he has taken control of GM, needs to convert the factories to new and needed uses immediately.

by tacoma1 on 6/3/2009 @ 11:41am
I liked tasks 3,4,8,

by NSHDscott on 6/3/2009 @ 3:47pm
tacoma1, Julie Anderson is on the ST board, that's why it's her giving the presentation.

by Nick on 6/3/2009 @ 4:46pm
What about PT as a funding partner? I don't know what their budget looks like, but maybe as another transit agency there are federal/state funding options they could apply for that private orgs could not. Just some speculation...

by tacoma1 on 6/4/2009 @ 8:40am
Oh yeah, I shoulda known that, thanks for the reminder.

by morgan on 6/8/2009 @ 12:38pm
The TNT has a more elaborate post on the upcoming info session here:

Tacoma already has Roman Meal - why not woo Rice-a-Roni?!

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 6/14/2009 @ 5:57am
This reminds me of the time I drove up to the town of Rockport to check out a 1908 Turtleback streetcar that used to run in Tacoma.

by morgan on 6/17/2009 @ 11:27am
Tonight! (note revised time - starts at 6pm)

TDI-Reporters-Notebook: I haven't forgotten about that old streetcar!

by fredo on 6/17/2009 @ 12:33pm
Given the financial mess Tacoma's in this streetcar project looks like "pie in the sky." But it all makes sense in the feedtacoma utopia. Let's list it as another priority item.

by tacoma1 on 6/17/2009 @ 12:34pm
Looks like the meeting is tomorrow night to me. I am planning on attending.

Tacoma light rail/streetcar public information meeting, June 18
On June 18 from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.

by morgan on 6/17/2009 @ 1:18pm
tacoma1: Sorry! I got a little excited. Yes - TOMORROW! (not tonight!)

fredo: care for some pie? you gotta start somewhere, sometime.

by boearc on 6/17/2009 @ 1:35pm
So Morgan, are you telling me that a streetcar or a light-rail can actually make the grade and turn at Stadium? This is not just a two dimensional turn - it is a three-dimensional turn OR is the entire area going to be regraded to make the turn on the flat before transitioning to the incline (in which case the slope down from Tacoma Avenue will be approaching about 22 percent!)? Is there enough room at this intersection? Also, what happens during the school year at 7:30am and 2pm in the afternoon? Are the busses for Stadium no longer going to be used and/or is their staging area to be on the other side of the Stadium Bowl (and if so - does the neighborhood know that)? There are some nuts and bolts questions that need answers before thought of extending the existing rail system (sic) we have UP Stadium Way.

by tacoma1 on 6/17/2009 @ 1:50pm
I believe that ST has already done a feasibility study which determined that it is possible to extend link up to TG. We will certainly have to see what the plans and possible routes are, but ST had no problem getting from one side of Beacon Hill in Seattle to the otherside. Beacon Hill is certainly steeper than Stadium Way. Grade is not necessarily an impediment to light rail. If it can't go up a hill, it can go around or through it.

If link does eventually go up Stadium Way and beyond, it would only make sense to have the high school kids get on link. That would relieve some burden on the school system bus budget.

by boearc on 6/17/2009 @ 1:59pm
tacoma1 - as one who worked on a light railway system for two years - the issue is not going up and over - it is keeping the rails relatively level with each other. This is not possible at the Stadium corner without completely regrading the corner to 'flatten' out the turn before the incline. Also, does any type of train have the 'traction' ability to climb this type of grade without resorting to some 'assitance.' Hmmmm. ST did a feasiblity study on the Sounder Extension too - how is that working out so far for the Dome District?

by tacoma1 on 6/17/2009 @ 2:24pm

I don't know how they would get link up past Stadium, but I will ask tomorrow night. Then we will know. BTW, did you happen to notice in Seattle to get the light rail up and down the hill to Seatac, they built their very own light rail ramp, with their very own light rail turns that are designed to work exclusively for light rail. Way cool, ain't technology great.

Since you asked, the D to M project update:

Federal stimulus boosts Sounder extension to Lakewood
April 24, 2009
Work to begin on track improvements

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today awarded a contract for track and signal improvements on the Tacoma-to-Lakewood rail corridor, boosted by a $4.6 million federal stimulus infusion that will help bring commuter rail service to South Tacoma and Lakewood.

“We are squeezing every dollar we can out of these construction projects. With the federal help we received for the Tacoma-to-Lakewood rail corridor, we’re that much closer to the finish line,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.

“I am very proud of the way Sound Transit, the City of Tacoma, the federal government and the state are collaborating to make this Sounder extension a reality,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and Tacoma City Councilmember Julie Anderson.

by morgan on 6/17/2009 @ 3:23pm
boearc: there used to be one. So, yes, I think it's possible! There was also one that ran down McCarver and up Starr - with no cables.

by fredo on 6/17/2009 @ 7:02pm
I think one of the streetcars was involved in a horrible accident many years ago in the vicinity of the brewery district and a lot of passengers were killed. The accident was occasioned by a steep incline as I recall.

by Chris.Tacoma on 6/17/2009 @ 10:14pm
Fredo - It was the Delin St. hill south of Tacoma early in the 1900's. An inexperienced conductor on a foggy July 4th, with an overburdened streetcar was going too fast down an incline. In an attempt to slow down the car he reversed polarity on the controls, which disconnected the car from its power source - causing a loss of control. An accident of that type has no comparison to the technology of today. It simply can't happen with the way we operate pantographs these days.

We made the grade on Stadium 100 years ago, we can do it today. The only line in Tacoma that needed cables was the cable car loop on A St, 11th St., 13th St., and K St. The maximum grade on this route is ~11%.

by fredo on 6/18/2009 @ 7:17am
Chris@ That's the event, thanks for the posting! I guess I'm going to have to brush up on my pantograph technology.

Imagine how dangerous the old streetcars would have been if, on top of faulty control systems, the conductors had the ability and interest to text message their girlfriends while driving.

by boearc on 6/18/2009 @ 8:08am
OK - don't want to keep beating this horse - but are we talking a street car/trolly up Stadium or an extension of the bLINK? If it is the bLINK, then there is no #)@(ing way it can make the turn/curve/3-D slope without completely regrading the intersection. Light Rail does not work the same way as a trolley. The whole corner will be hugely impacted. For an example of this, go down to Pacific Avenue and South 17th Street where the tracks transition to Commerce Street (the political shift of the line). The requirements of a light rail track means all of the other aspects of this intersection need to be subservient to the engineering requirements of the rail (and totally screws up the existing grade of Pacific Avenue - and this is easy peasy compared to Stadium). My concern is that in order to make light rail take the Stadium corner, the light rail will need to continue the slope up Stadium Way (instead of flattening out after Division as the roadway does now), and this continuation of the slope will be required to be on an elevated viaduct so that at the corner of Stadium it is actually about 10-15 feet in the air. Nice. I guess it give the Stadium Student some place to smoke out of the rain and practice graphiti art - and be nice and contextual. So again the fear is ST will 'do' to the urban context of Stadium what it so far appears to be 'doing' to the Dome District.

by tacoma1 on 6/18/2009 @ 8:39am
Ok, so what we have learned here so for is: light rail has dedicated right away, that street cars run at street level and don't have right away, that we currently have a short rail system that needs to be expanded to be truly useful. that Stadium way is steep, that there is a big corner to negotiate at the top, and that ST is to blame for screwing up the industrial waste land we all know as the Dome District.

What we don't know is where we are going to expand the link to. If we can listen and discuss with an open mind, maybe we can learn and help the city plan. If we already know all the answers, not much will be discovered............

by boearc on 6/18/2009 @ 8:52am
Ah yes - but when politics make urban design decisions - then everything is continually 'shaped to fit.' Tacoma has a history of making bad urban design decisions and then having the amazing ability of continuing to build upon them. If the orignial bLINK route was decided based on it's ability to expand to serve a greater area - which is the whole point - then the route selected for the intial 'demo' should have passed a mustard test for HOW it would be expanded to see if there any fatal flaws. Of course there is the technology for light rail to run up Stadium Way, make the turn, and head down Division - but at what cost to the system AND more importantly, at what cost to the surrounding urban design context? As for the Dome District - it actually has the raw potential to out pearl the Pearl District - but so far the Sounder Extension is more suburban in design than actually being an asset (and I for one voted for the original ST proposal which was for Sounder to be extended using 'existing' railways - not for the creation of a new one).

by tacoma1 on 6/18/2009 @ 9:31am
All good points, and I actually don't disagree with any of them.

Going forward, I hope that we can plan together just a little better, turn that proverbial corner, and stop f'ng up our city. I think that a well designed T-link will help in that endeavor.

For that matter, I would be happy of Link didn't go up and down Stadium way, but ran all along Tacoma Ave, and then up 6th ave to TCC. We could have trolleys or a funicular system to haul people straight up and down 21st, and 11th st hill, with stops along the way.

by thriceallamerican on 6/18/2009 @ 9:42am
It's probably pie-in-the-sky, but my dream is that the existing Link line could somehow transition up a block so that it could go up St. Helens instead. Maybe work with Pierce Transit to make it happen at the current 9th and Commerce transit Jabba the Hut fountain and plaza? Revive the Elks transit station idea? I don't know how, I just know that St. Helens would be a great road for a streetcar and then we wouldn't have to worry about the corner at Stadium since the grade challenge would go away...

by Erik Hanberg on 6/18/2009 @ 10:30am
I have something to add to this. A month ago, I interviewed a SoundTransit spokesperson about the Link for an article that ended up not getting published.

She mentioned a few things:

A) Any expansion of the Link would be done in partnership and cooperation with the City of Tacoma and Pierce Transit.

B) The really don't know yet how they intend to extend the light rail. They could run small streetcars off the current Link system like the one pictured above. They could expand the Link at its current scale. They could expand the Link at its scale but not move utilities underneath it (making it much cheaper to build and thus able to go farther, but meaning there would be occasional system outages for utility service). That's in addition to figuring out the route map.

C) The reason they don't know these answers yet is because of A. All three agencies have to work together and that means it's going to take a very long time to first figure out the best solution and then implement it.

D) And finally, there's another question: do we seek Federal funds for the project. If so, it would delay the project by a couple years but expand the capacity of the system.

by Erik Hanberg on 6/18/2009 @ 10:35am
Ok, that one was the "facts" comment. Personally, I agree with Dan Voelpel, that it needs to be a priority. In his column about this a few months ago, he wrote that Tacoma was actually front-loaded to get ST tax share.

I know that with three government agencies all working together the likelihood of quick action is low, and that going slow makes sure we don't do something stupid or unwise with taxpayer money. But I would still like to see a champion emerge that could push this forward and through all the hoops and processes it needs to go through.

My personal preference is to go as far as possible as quickly as possible. Don't spend so much on redirecting utilities so that we can reach as far into surrounding neighborhoods as possible; and don't wait for federal money.

by tacoma1 on 6/18/2009 @ 12:09pm
Excellent points. If we were able to develop both a short term and long term strategy, then we could go "as far as possible as quickly as possible" now, and with a solid plan in hand, we could apply for federal dollars to help build future rail projects.

by Chris.Tacoma on 6/18/2009 @ 1:30pm
@tacoma1 @Erik

Agreed. We should do what we can with the money we have right now and establish a long range plan that we can use to leverage federal funds. There's a lot happening in transportation policy at the federal level right now. The transit / highways split is bound to be changed significantly and there are supposedly going to be a lot more funds to go around.

We really do need a champion for this, and there doesn't seem to be one on Council right now. Julie is running for Auditor and I don't know of any other councilmember who "gets" the full implications of rail transit enough to take this project on. Jake Fey would be a good person to encourage, since the western side of his district (Downtown, Stadium, UPS) voted 65% in favor of ST2.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/18/2009 @ 1:37pm
Streetcar LID.

Get streetcars AND fix our damn potholes.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/18/2009 @ 1:55pm
"We really do need a champion for this, and there doesn't seem to be one on Council right now"

And WHY does a champion need to be in City Council? Let's be honest here. Our Fearless Leaders @ 747 Market keep failing us. Every election it's the same empty promises.

We can't rely on the city or businesses to read our minds or give us what we want. Our best interest is not their interest. So, why don't we form our own citizen's action group and make our own Champion?
We got media connections. We got local connections. We got business connections. We got political connections.
Why aren't WE, as a collective, getting together and making our voices heard?
Imagine a plethora of 30s and 40s USSR style pro-streetcar posters on every street corner. Imagine 50 letters a day to City Council members. Imagine a billboard or six. Imagine a TV or radio ad. Imagine a pro-streetcar rally @ Tollefson. We're being sheep right now and nothing will come of it. We need to be Lions to make this happen.

Tacoma needs rails. And the rails need us.

by Erik Hanberg on 6/18/2009 @ 2:01pm
A citizen champion is a good idea. I'd like to nominate Morgan as the official champion of this cause.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/18/2009 @ 2:07pm
A citizen champion is meaningless and a waste of time and energy if there isn't community to back them up.

We need a champion, and Morgan may do a fine job... but WILL fail unless we rally around the cause. This is a community cause and the community needs to get proactive.
When and where will the first meeting be? In Tollefson? Sunday night? C'mon people.

by Nick on 6/18/2009 @ 4:02pm

I like your 'make it happen' attitude.

I will say right now if we can get some leadeship (Morgan?) on this I for one will stand behind them. I will go to every meeting, offer what skills I have, and throw everything I have into helping to make this happen.

Let's stop staring at that pie in the sky and start building the damn ladder!

by NineInchNachos on 6/18/2009 @ 4:17pm
feel free to register your transit ideas on the city of tacoma itself. consider the concrete of frost park as your sketch pad.

by Nick on 6/18/2009 @ 5:03pm
@NiN haha, nice!

by NineInchNachos on 6/18/2009 @ 6:15pm
please begin any transit submission sketch with "ATTN: Julie Anderson"

David Boe will be on hand to vet any grade level concerns.

by AngelaJossy on 6/18/2009 @ 11:28pm
Pardon the self-serving plug but the topic seems related: You're the first to know! I'm performing at the Sound Transit light rail grand opening July 18 4-6 pm at the Tukwila station. All rides between Seattle and Tukwila are free. For more info go to

by morgan on 6/19/2009 @ 6:31am
Great turnout last night!

The City, ST, and PT were all there. Julie Anderson said that they are all moving together forward in planning the streetcar system. That's good and bad. Good because there is activity. Bad because there is no fire lighting the activity - and three cannot move as quickly as one.

Also, it turns out that PT hasn't updated their system in over 30 years, thanks to a stale CEO that is now retired. They will now be spending the next year reviewing everything they are doing - leaving room for considering taking on operating streetcars. But, they said they need to hear from the public.

by Erik on 6/19/2009 @ 9:00am
The City, ST, and PT were all there. Julie Anderson said that they are all moving together forward in planning the streetcar system.

Nice. Now it is time for action.

When does Tacoma finally get streetcars?

by morgan on 6/19/2009 @ 9:24am
When does Tacoma finally get streetcars?

Julie says ST money won't be released for another 5 years. (I wonder what they are doing with the interest that is being gained on the money?) Based on that, there won't be too much dirt turning for quite some time.

by fredo on 6/19/2009 @ 10:13am
I think the ST money is matching money. We don't get anything without developing additional, and as of yet, unidentified funding sources.

In 5 years Tacoma taxpayers may be knee deep in a $750M property tax scheme to fix our potholes. So ST financing is going to have to be on top of that. The voters willingness to accept increasing layers of taxes will be tested in November.

by morgan on 6/19/2009 @ 11:33am
fredo: Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone? While fixing potholes, we could be laying down some track. That money could be part of the matching funds.

by Erik on 6/19/2009 @ 12:43pm
Julie says ST money won't be released for another 5 years.

What the ???

In 5 years Tacoma taxpayers may be knee deep in a $750M property tax scheme to fix our potholes

I think a levy to fix the potholes might be good. Unfortunately, it is most likely dead on arrival in November. The vote will not even be close IMO.

by tacoma1 on 6/19/2009 @ 2:15pm
I thought that the road levy was going to be $180 million.

Anyway, to get no more roads or transit, just smooth pavement, that will certainly be voted down.

I imagine that this is just to wear down the voters for the real roads fix later on when the economy is rising back............... which will be, better transit, street car system, and complete streets.

by morgan on 6/19/2009 @ 3:18pm
I think a levy to fix the potholes might be good. Unfortunately, it is most likely dead on arrival in November

Agreed. But now, what if the ballot were in 2010 (hopefully the economy will have turned and people would feel more optimistic) and included streetcars?

by tacoma1 on 6/19/2009 @ 3:36pm
Me thinks that that dog would hunt.

by NineInchNachos on 6/19/2009 @ 4:25pm
when gasoline goes up to $10 a gallon anything is possible

by tacoma1 on 6/19/2009 @ 4:58pm

Even at current prices, people like light rail. Phoenix has way more riders than anticipated right now.

Opec has said that they will not raise oil production until oil gets to $100/ barrel, that means we should be about $3.50 to $4.00/gal. fairly soon. Electric rail doesn't care how much the price of oil is.

by jenyum on 6/20/2009 @ 10:01am
If we really want it to happen, it's not something that one citizen leader can do alone. There's already a Tacoma Streetcar list, yes? (Although I don't think I've received an email in a year or so.)

There needs to be more structure. Formalize the organization so that you can start asking for membership dues. Recruit leaders from the various neighborhoods in the city, ask them to recruit members, set up specific action agendas. Put together all of these great perspectives - David Boe, Erik and Morgan's research, and draft a general plan of action. Ask your members to vote on it. Then you will have something concrete that you can bring to the City Council. Even if it doesn't end up being the plan that gets implemented (and far more than likely it won't be) it will be something specific enough for people to get behind.

If you can't get anyone to champion the issue on the city council, become a powerful enough organization to get your own people elected.

by tacoma1 on 6/20/2009 @ 11:52am
For those that don't know about Transportation Choices Coalition, anyone interested might want to check out their website. Maybe even join.

Yeah, I know they are based up in Seattle, but their agenda is Washington State. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. I'm sure that they would be all over helping T-Town get some rails in the roadway.

by jenyum on 6/20/2009 @ 1:46pm
Sure, but at least contact them about starting a Tacoma team. I wouldn't rely on any statewide org to have Piece County's interests at heart unless you are actively driving their agenda with your own membership base and platform.

It's 2009 and we still don't have any direct service from Piece County the job centers on the East Side, nor really any particular plan to implement that in the next decade. If region-wide transportation groups had us on their radar at all I don't think that would be the case.

by morgan on 6/21/2009 @ 2:21pm
Erik H.: Thanks you for the official nomination! I would be more than happy to take streetcars on a more official level. Now, who is going to head up the write-in campaign for the election this fall?

by NSHDscott on 6/22/2009 @ 12:09pm
Does anyone know where I could find a more comprehensive write-up of the 6/18 presentation, or if it will be televised on one of our government channels? I wasn't able to go and haven't found any real reporting or recap of what was said.

by morgan on 6/22/2009 @ 4:08pm
I got there a few minutes late, but I don't think I missed much. When I got there, Council Member Julie Anderson was speaking to the group. She gave an overview of the layout of the event and some pieces that are in play: all three agencies (city, ST, PT) have agreed to move together hand-in-hand, PT is working on re-evaluating EVERYTHING they are doing and will consider incorporating streetcars into a new mission (which should wrap up next year), the city is pursuing an "alternatives analysis" which could last a couple years and could help get Federal funding. She also said that the city manager has the responsibility of identifying and working out agreements with partners (Russell, Puyallup Tribe, MultiCare, etc) on the project.

by morgan on 6/22/2009 @ 4:16pm
KEVIN!!!! Feed Bug! (the following was posted in the last post, but kept getting cut-off)

I was expecting an open Q&A session, but there was none. There were several picture board display "booths" with reps from the city, PT, & ST. There were also sheets you could leave questions on to be answered later by staff.

by NSHDscott on 6/23/2009 @ 10:32am
Hm. Sounds kind of lame. No Q&A?!

Hey, I wanted to throw an idea out there to see if it sticks. It's an attempt to address the issue of the tough corner at the top of Stadium Way, the problem with schoolbuses and kids congesting the same road twice every schoolday, the whole light rail vs. streetcars debate ... and even the future of the Elks Temple!

Remember when Pierce Transit was looking at the Elks Temple as their new transit hub ( I don't know if that idea's out now that some other company wants to build a retirement home there (, but let's assume the potential is still there. So here's what we do:

Move the northernmost Link terminal from its current location in a dumpy area near the Winthrop to very near the Elks Temple. That's the final terminus of that end of the Link.

Pierce Transit does whatever it has to do to make the Elks Temple its transit hub, which I believe also involves the parking lot to the south of the Spanish Steps. The renovation includes elevators within the Elks Temple.

A streetcar terminal is built on the Broadway side of the Elks Temple that extends up Broadway to Division, avoiding the school and commuter traffic of Stadium Way and further enhancing the nice new St. Helens neighborhood. The streetcar then heads up Division and 6th Ave. to serve the neighborhoods of north Tacoma from that point.

(Really the whole Pierce Transit part of this idea is optional as it can still be done without their involvement, but it just makes more sense with them in it. A public elevator might be required, though.)

Benefits of this plan:

* Provides a nice way to transition from light rail (downtown) to streetcars (neighborhoods). Streetcars give you so many more miles for the buck, and according to Mr. Boe can handle tough corners and grades more easily.
* Keeps the line off busy, congested Stadium Way and puts it into more of a neighborhood setting.
* Potentially gives the Elks Temple new life and Pierce Transit a new home, which has lots of tangential benefits.

by NSHDscott on 6/23/2009 @ 10:38am
Not to distract from my previous idea, but here's another -- this one regarding streetcars on 6th Ave.

That awesome, historic stone church near the middle of the 6th Ave hot spot is for sale ( I know this isn't the most exciting use of such a great building, but how about turning it into a parking garage? Those 6th Ave merchants and nearby neighbors all bark about lack of parking there, so let's give them a really cool parking garage. Then we can remove the on-street parking and use the extra space for a dedicated streetcar lane, with a terminal very close to that church/parking lot.

Or, tear down one of the uglier remaining corners of that area to put the garage/terminal there, where the affordable animal clinic shacks and aluminum-box House of Records sit:

by boearc on 6/23/2009 @ 11:00am
Old City Hall bLINK Station with transfer to Broadway Trolley up the Spanish Steps. Damn, that is a good idea. Makes the Elks and Old City Hall that much more attractive for development - and solves the cluster #)$( of trying to force the light-rail into (onto?) the Stadium corner. Damn, this really a good idea.

by morgan on 6/23/2009 @ 11:32am
In theory, it's a good idea. But in practical terms, the more transfers there are the more you lose riders. If I'm on 6th Ave or Proctor, let's say, and I want to get to the Dome District, I might decide that the transfer will take up too much time so I'll want to drive. Now, if Tacoma actually had some density in its downtown core - like it once had - then you could do streetcar lines on every street: Broadway, St. Helens, Tacoma Ave - they all had lines.

Turn a historic church into a parking garage - NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

How about this: there is an original Tacoma Streetcar sitting on a field way up north. Who would be interested in helping organize a fund raising campaign to get it restored and running on the existing LINK tracks?

I like the discussion - keep it coming!

by NSHDscott on 6/23/2009 @ 12:07pm
Thanks, boearc. Feel free to take ownership of the idea, it's in better hands with you.

Morgan, I totally agree that transfers are to be minimized, but if we're going to go the streetcar route to get more miles for our money, we have to have a transfer somewhere (unless we downgrade our existing Link to a streetcar, like that'll happen). Might as well do it sooner rather than later, especially if that makes the hill climb to the Stadium District easier. I'd love to see a streetcar transfer station at or near every Link station, starting with the northernmost one.

And I cringe at thinking of Sixth Avenue Baptist as a garage, too, but it's a great use of the land, a needed neighborhood improvement, and a way to potentially rescue a building that won't survive as a church and is hard to convert to any other use.

Would love to see actual historic streetcars rolling again, though!

by Erik Hanberg on 6/23/2009 @ 1:06pm
I agree with Morgan that transfers make things a little bit harder. But I can certainly see the merits of what @NSHDscott, as it would seem to make things a lot cheaper to get the streetcar up the hill.

My question for @boearc--sending it up broadway and turning at division ... isn't that still a really hard change? With the Stadium Way to Division change, at least you have a natural slope and a natural curve already. Thoughts?

by morgan on 6/23/2009 @ 1:35pm
Hmmm, I can't see a parking garage being the highest and best use for a piece of commercial property on 6th Ave. Better to just build a streetcar system so people won't have to take their cars.

What if instead of sending the existing LINK cars up to Stadium, a shorter car were used? And, what if instead of continuing where the line stops now, a new line were built on Jefferson/Market/St. Helens that connected with the "Main Line" at South 25th?

Tacoma's LINK is a hybrid system - it's not really light rail. Although, it was built to easily (in theory) upgrade to light rail at some point in the future.

by tacoma1 on 6/23/2009 @ 1:39pm
I have to agree, although NSHDscott has a really good idea, too many transfers are a bad thing. To increase ridership, we have to minimize transfers. Most people can handle two, but that's the limit. If a Seattle train rider comes in to town in the AM, waits 5 minutes for link, and then has to wait another 5 to 10 minutes to transfer for a 1 mile ride up the hill, that would be too much for all but the most ardent transit geek. The ultimate goal, has to make transit as seamless and mainstream as possible.

I say no to parking garages, yes to feeder buses, yes to bike lanes, and a double yes to wide tree lined pedestrian walkways that lead to streetcar and lightrail routes.

I also say yes to charging for all rides as soon as the line is extended, no more freeload ridership downtown.

by boearc on 6/23/2009 @ 3:02pm
Erik - street cars and light-rail (hybrid or not) are very different design beasts. Light rail is designed to rail tolerances while street cars are much more forgiving in relation to the existing grades. Again, go look at 17th and Pacific and tell me which won - the bLINK or the historic alignment of Pacific Avenue. Yes - Broadway to Division is still an issue - however, so much better to have a trolley on a two-dimensional turning at Broadway/Division than a light-rail mucking-up the surrounding grades at the Stadium Corner ("so where is this historic school I have heard about - oh, it is located behind that rail viaduct, eh?). I fear an 'imagine tacoma' on this subject is in the queue...

by tacoma1 on 6/23/2009 @ 3:54pm
I do agree that blocking the view of our $100 million castle should be avoided.

by NSHDscott on 6/23/2009 @ 4:13pm
Looking forward to the Imagine Tacoma!

by morgan on 6/24/2009 @ 6:29am
Look, Tacoma was built on streetcars! We're just not designed for light-rail. Look what they did to down town with LINK! They mucked it up! Streetcars could have been nearly seamlessly integrated within the existing urban fabric. Plus we just don't have the density to justify light rail - it's VERY expensive and usually used at a regional level, not inner-city.

by tacoma1 on 6/24/2009 @ 9:51am
Just a couple of points here.

Tacoma was built, then the housing developers built street cars to get people to and from the suburbs, South Tacoma, North Tacoma, etc. to downtown, which was known as New Tacoma.

Downtown Tacoma was mucked up way before ST ever existed. Elmos - Fun Circus - seedy bars and hookers everywhere. Tacomans mucked up Tacoma. UW Tacoma, the museums, and ST put downtown T Town back together.

And yes, we need street cars in T-town, not lightrail. Eventually, the proper place for lightrail would be from freighthouse square to the airport.