Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tacoma Amtrak Station Relocation

The past few months local officials, concerned citizens, business representatives, and other key stakeholders came together to form a Citizen Advisory Committee and reviewed a proposal by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that would relocate Tacoma’s Amtrak train station, currently located at 1001 Puyallup Avenue, to the Freighthouse Square mixed –use retail facility at 25-1 East “D” Street.

The relocation of the station is due to the Point Defiance Bypass Project, which will reroute passenger trains to an existing rail line along the west side of I-5 through south Tacoma, Lakewood, and DuPont.

The Committee developed 25 initial recommendations that were organized into four broad categories consistent with the long-term goals of the Dome District where the current and future station is located. These recommendations were then shortened and prioritized.

The most significant recommendation was related to the “blockage of East “C” and East “D” streets by trains, train-related safety gates, safety arms, or signaling devices that occur when trains are passing in order to improve pedestrian and vehicular north-south circulation throughout the district.”

The Committee noted that WSDOT’s current proposal of relocating the Amtrak train station to Freighthouse Square would result in these streets being blocked for a longer period of time than currently, because of the increased length of the Amtrak trains. Tacoma City Councilman David Boe also pointed out critical safety issues related to this recommendation, since increased wait times may entice impatient drivers and pedestrians to go around safety gates and related devices.

The Committee recommends placing the station platform onto the trestle to the east. The current Tacoma Trestle is a 100 year old, wooden, single-track trestle leading up to Freighthouse Square. The aging trestle needs to be replaced with a new concrete double track structure anyway, adding weight to the Committee’s recommendation to build the platform on the trestle.

In addition, the Committee noted the importance of having the Amtrak station located in Tacoma and the Dome District, creating a transit hub and making it easy for travelers to visit downtown Tacoma, UWT, the Glass Museum, and other key places. 

Other Committee recommendations were related to noise, parking, traffic circulation, urban and station design, and can be found in the City’s website.

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