Sound Transit, amidst the nation’s largest light rail expansion, has put its sights on a preferred route with station locations for a 9.7-mile Tacoma Dome Extension while announcing the general contractor for the upcoming Downtown Redmond Link Extension. 

In Tacoma, even while the Tacoma City Council and city’s mayor suggested investigating a cut-and-cover method for installing track and a station, Sound Transit decided to explore an extension route from the Federal Way Transit Center south along the west side of Interstate 5 to a new South Federal Way station. Then, the new track would run alongside State Route 99 into Fife and a new station there before traveling to Tacoma near Pacific Highway East, culminating at an elevated station near the Tacoma Dome. 

While the preferred option for Sound Transit, the upcoming Draft Environmental Impact Statement will explore other options before settling on a final decision. But none will include the cut-and-cover tunnel option. 

“While I’m disappointed that we can’t move forward on a cut-and-cover option at the Tacoma Dome, I’m dedicated to working alongside Sound Transit to ensure the Dome District and the city of Tacoma receives a station that is integrated into the community, reflects high quality design and showcases how Sound Transit and the Puget Sound region are leaders in transit-oriented development,” says Victoria Woodards, Tacoma mayor and Sound Transit board member, in a statement. “I stand with my fellow Sound Transit board members in moving alternatives for the Tacoma Dome Link Project into environmental study.” 

The recent action wraps up an 18-month process of public engagement meant to determine the preferred alternative, as well as other alternatives, to study in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. 

As Sound Transit plans to begin construction on light rail between SeaTac and Federal way in early 2020 for completion in 2024, the Tacoma Dome Link Extension DEIS publish date is expected in 2021 with a final alignment selected in 2022, groundbreaking on the project in 2025 and service starting in 2030. 

The Sound Transit board also announced the selection of the joint venture Stacy and Witbeck/Kuney to build the 3.4-mile Downtown Redmond Link Extension, extending the Blue Line for just over $729 million. 

The design-build contract includes all work to complete final design and construction of 3.4 miles of light rail guideway connecting to the existing Redmond Technology Station and extending into downtown Redmond. The contract also includes design and construction of two stations, a 1,400-space parking garage, the overhead catenary system, traction power substations, train control and communications, special track work, utilities and street and trail improvements. 

The board also approved an allowance up to $50 million and authorized the project team to review alternative concepts received during the procurement process. 

Sound Transit is simultaneously working to extend light rail north, south, east and west, opening new stations every few years to form a 116-mile regional system by 2041. The Northgate Link Extension adds three stations to the Red Line in 2021. In 2024, the Blue Line will extend from Overlake into downtown Redmond and additional extension will operate to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Kent/Des Moines and Federal Way. Further light rail extensions are scheduled to reach West Seattle, Fife and Tacoma in 2030, Ballard in 2035, Paine Field and Everett in 2036 and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041. 

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.