Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Streetcar Proposal Leaves the Station

Yesterday, the BIA participated in the inaugural meeting of an advisory committee of Tacoma residents, transit planners, and City Hall staff tasked with determining the feasibility of creating a historic streetcar system in Tacoma. On June 27, the Tacoma City Council unanimously passed a resolution directing city staff to convene such a group.

The group will be meeting monthly in order to wrestle with some substantial issues, among them just what a "streetcar" really is--in many communities that currently have streetcars, downtown's LINK light rail would fit the description, but that's not a foregone conclusion in this effort by any means. The study is also expected to shed light on costs associated with the idea, which promises to be the biggest obstacle to building a line. According to information presented to the committee, streetcar lines in other cities range between $22.2 million per mile in Atlanta to $46 million per mile in Denver.

The feasibility study resulted from advocacy by a grassroots group, Tacoma Streetcar, which has proposed three lines connecting the Proctor District with S. Tacoma Way. That group's founder, Morgan Alexander, is a member of the present committee.

The advisory committee is expected to meet through April of next year, before presenting its findings to City Council.

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