Sound Transit’s plans for expanding light rail in the south Puget Sound in Tacoma became more public recently at an open house at Evergreen State College.

The Tacoma Link Extension project approved by voters in the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure will extend Tacoma’s Sound Transit light rail line 2.4 miles from the Theater District through the Stadium Way and Hilltop neighborhoods to Martin Luther King Jr. Way and south 18th Street. The project will include six new stations and one relocated station, require five new vehicles and include expansion of the operations and maintenance facility already in Tacoma. With design of the project now complete enough for public consumption, construction is scheduled on the $217 million project in fall 2018.

The open house marked the kick-off of pre-construction activities, which also include permitting and hiring of contractors to build the new route. Sound Transit says it expects to have a contractor on board in mid-2018. Sound Transit has worked with HDR Engineering as its prime consultant so far on the project with assistance from Concord Engineering, FSi Consulting Engineers, Krebs Corp., LTK Engineering Services, PRR, PCS Structural Solutions, Shannon & Wilson, Triunity Engineering & Management, True North Land Surveying, Waterleaf Architecture, Swift Co. and Wilson Ihrig.

The project will more than double the length of Tacoma Link, which currently serves about one million riders annually. The six new stations connect light rail to popular destinations such as Old City Hall, the Stadium District, Wright Park and major medical facilities before reaching its new Hilltop terminus.

Tracks will run in existing road lanes and will remain compatible with on-street parking and existing bicycle facilities. Platforms will be located in the center roadway.

The Tacoma Link project is scheduled to open in 2022, years ahead of the Sound Transit 3-funded levy to extend Tacoma light rail to Tacoma Community College in a 4.4-mile, $478 million project that will start construction, as of current plans, in 2026 and with service starting by 2040.

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