Re: Expansion of Tacoma Link light rail.
The Eastside Neighborhood Advisory Council and Dometop Neighborhood Alliance are unanimously in favor of the Eastside route C-1. We feel it meets all the criteria of the six goals set forth by the Sound Transit Board.
• Goal 1: Improve mobility and transportation access for Tacoma residents and visitors.
The expansion of light rail service along Portland Avenue will bring improvements to pedestrian and bicycle routes, sidewalks and crosswalks. Link service will connect residents of the Eastside and visitors to Tacoma to and from the downtown area. The Link will provide transportation to Pierce Transit buses at the Tacoma Dome Station for a connection to Sea-Tac Airport. It will provide service to the Greyhound bus station, the Emerald Queen Casino, the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center and to the Tacoma Dome for events.
• Goal 2: Increase transit ridership within the City of Tacoma.
Portland Avenue is zoned mixed use, and bringing the Link to this area will increase ridership in the business district and support more walking, bicycling and transit use. The multicultural population of the Eastside shows an increase in all of the above.
• Goal 3: Serve underserved neighborhoods and communities in the City of Tacoma.
The Eastside of Tacoma has a large, diverse group of people who fall below the average income level. Their primary mode of transportation is public transportation. The Link would enable people to get more involved in city government with a means of transportation to the core of our city. This would enable more people to apply for jobs farther from home.
Lower Portland Avenue is home to the largest low-income housing development in the Pacific Northwest. Connecting low-income families with transportation is vital to their advancement.
• Goal 4: Use transit to spur economic development and other types of investments.
Portland Avenue is zoned mixed use, and the Link would light a spark in the building industry for diverse housing for both mixed-income and mixed-household investment. We have a large amount of open space that can be turned into hotels to support events at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, the Tacoma Dome and the Emerald Queen Casino. Many underutilized properties are currently available at lower than market value which would attract real estate investors.
• Goal 5: Ensure that the project is environmentally sensitive and sustainable.
Along the C-1 route is a bustling 14-acre park with a variety of playground equipment, pool, community center and a soccer field. The Puyallup Tribe has planted a medicinal garden for tribal use. There are two other community gardens along the route; Swan Creek Community Garden is just beyond the C-1 corridor. Swan Creek Park is a beautiful natural setting with 400 acres of green space, mountain bike and hiking trails, community garden, salmon stream, an off-leash dog park and a gathering place.
• Goal 6: Establish a project that is competitive for federal funding.
Along the C-1 route are many opportunities for receiving federal support. They are the main offices of the Puyallup Tribe, Puyallup Tribal Police, the Takopid Health Center and hospital, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Tacoma Housing Authority’s Hope 6 Salishan project (the largest low-income housing project in the Pacific Northwest), three food banks, Portland Avenue Community Center and park, the William Factory Small Business Incubator, Blix and Roosevelt elementary schools and First Creek Middle School.
All of the above businesses or parks receive some sort of federal funding at this time.
We strongly suggest this Eastside route to encourage economic development and allow residents to apply for jobs downtown.
Lynnette Scheidt is president of the Eastside Neighborhood Advisory Council of Tacoma and the Dometop Neighborhood Alliance.