Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two Trees for Tacoma

This year Tacoma will celebrate the holidays with not one, but two holiday trees.

HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING, Saturday, November 29th

This is a free community event. In efforts to document historical events at the corner of 9th & Broadway, a community group photo will be taken at the Annual Tree Lighting Event. Also, a guest appearance will be made by Santa Claus in the Pantages Lobby beginning at 4:30 p.m. Complimentary hot cocoa and cider will be provided by the Broadway Center.

Scrooge: The Movie Musical will be shown at 3:00 pm, before the tree lighting and after the lighting at 6:00 pm at the Pantages. Scrooge: The Movie Musical is an adaptation of the beloved Charles Dickens; novel, A Christmas Carol. Advance tickets to Scrooge: The Movie Musical are available now for $8, seating is general admission. Tickets may be purchased at the Broadway Center Box Office located on 9th & Broadway or by calling the Box Office at 253.591.5894. To purchase online at any time or for information about upcoming events visit

TOLLEFEST, Saturday, December 6th

Yes, there is something worth doing in Tollefson Plaza (besides skateboarding). Come to “Tollefest,” the first annual winter festival in Tollefson Plaza! It is presented by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber with special thanks to Rainier Pacific Bank, City of Tacoma Public Works Department, BCRA, and AA Party Rentals.

Come listen to the Center of Faith Church Choir, play carnival games, and watch the tree lighting at 4:15 p.m.! Admission is FREE, but we encourage families to bring canned foods and non-perishable items to donate to the Emergency Food Network. See you there!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dome District Stakeholders Comment on Sound Transit Plans

A committed group of business owners and community members concerned about the future of the Dome District has been meeting regularly over the past few months with the Sound Transit Design Team to review proposed designs of the Sounder comuter train extension from D Street to M Street.

For more information about the D to M Street Extension please visit the Hillside Development Council website

In Mid-November the citizens group sent the following memo to Sound Transit articulating their concerns about the process.

November 13, 2008

To: Sound Transit

From: Citizen of Tacoma

Re: Sounder Train, D Street to M Street Extension

Over the past couple of months a number of citizens have been meeting with the Sound Transit Design Team and City of Tacoma representatives for the design review of the extension of the Sounder Train from D Street to M Street. During this period a number of issues have been revealed which are summarized in this memo.

The issues and comments include:

1. The community and local groups defined a list of 6 general principles to consider in the design of the extension. These were submitted at the first meeting of the group. It appears that the Design Team and Sound Transit are not taking these general principles seriously. It is the strong recommendation that these “general guiding principles” become the committed “design criteria” for the project.

2. A number of key elements may have affected the intent of the “Term Sheet” that was signed by the City of Tacoma and Sound Transit last year. It is recommended that the City of Tacoma/City Council review this “Term Sheet” to determine if it needs to be revisited. The grades and impacts proposed by Sound Transit certainly seem to have changed a number of factors in the agreement.

3. The design seems only to respond to the rail needs, whereas the primary design issue needs to be the people affected by this extension through the emerging urban area.

4. Meeting notes were taken by a Sound Transit scribe and these notes were to be converted to minutes of the meetings. The first meeting minutes were submitted to the group at the second meeting with no prior review. Before the third meeting the citizens reviewed the minutes and responded to a number of erroneous statements in the minutes. To date:

a. The first meeting minutes have not been submitted to the group with corrections noted by the citizens (see attachment).

b. No minutes of the second and third meetings have been distributed.(The minutes were received by email midday today so there is no time to review the minutes prior to the meeting.)

5. The tenor of the meetings has not been consistent:

a. At the first meeting the Sound Transit design team wanted to rush to design judgment and have the citizen group’s blessing on what Sound Transit was presenting. The citizens distributed the “general guiding principles” and a couple of diagrams suggesting that these principles should be the basis of design.

b. The second meeting seemed to be an attempt by the Sound Transit design team to be sensitive to the citizens’ design issues. The dialogue was somewhat encouraging.

c. The third meeting turned the discussions 180 degrees. The presentations were blunt responses to the needs of the rail, with impacts to grades and streets being more serious than previously thought. The Sound Transit design team did not appear to be working toward a people/urban friendly solution.

6. This memo is the results of a number of community gatherings since the last Sound Transit design team/citizens meeting.

7. A number of key questions have surfaced:

a. What should be done about the closing of A Street and what is the mitigation?
b. Why is South C Street now being closed?
c. Why are the potential problems of the at grade crossing at East D Street not being addressed d. What should be done at Pacific Avenue? The group is now told that Pacific Avenue will be lower almost twice as far as indicated at the time of the Term Sheet.

8. There may be other considerations that need to be addressed in this project:

a. Should more grade separations be considered? (i.e. A Street, C Street)
b. What about the impacts of the trains through the rest of the City as it moves through South Tacoma? Recent articles have pointed out some serious concerns about safety along the entire route.

Action Steps that Citizens believe need to be taken:

  1. The City of Tacoma needs an independent “rail specialist” and independent “urban design team” to address the concerns of the City and the community that are not high priorities in the design solution by Sound Transit.
  2. Sound Transit needs to provide approved minutes of all the meetings, with the first draft of the minutes well in advance of the next meeting day.
  3. The three tiers of meetings that are outlined in the “Term Sheet” need to be coordinated. Information from the “Project Management Team” and the “Executive Oversight Committee” need to be transmitted to the Design Team citizens group. Perhaps a citizen of the City needs to be represented on these committees.
  4. Information with complete backup data needs to be shared early with all participants so that consensus can be achieved with clear understanding.

The citizens believe that a collaborative approach that really addresses the impacts on the urban area and the quality of life for its community can be achieved. We just need to reorder the priorities.

1. General Guiding Principles
2. Meeting #1 Minutes with citizen comments in red

End of Memo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Extending the Sounder to Lakewood…Why You Should Care

Although there isn’t much for Pierce County in Sound Transit’s recently passed Proposition 1, Sound Transit construction is headed our way. The proposed extension of the Sounder Commuter line through the Dome District and on to Lakewood will define how the Dome District develops in the years to come.

Although it may not be readily evident, the underutilized Dome District has great potential to redevelop into an active, exciting urban neighborhood on par with Portland’s Pearl District and Vancouver’s Yaletown. Our Dome District is at the nexus of multiple transportation corridors linking the north and south Puget Sound. Amtrak, Sounder, Link light rail, freight rail, Tacoma Dome station park and ride for local and commuter buses, ramps for the I-705 and I-5 freeways and the connection point to the long awaited Water Ditch and Prairie Line pedestrian and bike trails all connect through the District.

Currently, hundreds of people pass through and nearby the Dome District daily, creating a great transit oriented development opportunity; if only we create an urban environment that attracts these would-be customers and residents to stay, shop, live and play. The decisions made in the near future about the Sound Transit extension will set the path for how the Dome District can and will develop in the future.

The D to M street track and signal improvement alignment designed by Sound Transit will send the Sounder through the heart of the Dome District at-grade, with the exception of a raised grade-separated crossing at Pacific Ave. According to Sound Transit, the challenging topography of the Dome District combined with the grade limitations and sightline line requirements for both vehicles and trains restrict the design of the route. Consequently, the proposed $6 million project will bi-sect existing parcels, close South ‘C’ and ‘A’ Streets, define the route by which the Water Ditch Trail enters downtown Tacoma, and create at grade railroad crossings at East ‘D’ and East ‘C’ Streets.

Ultimately, project will redirect intercity passenger trains between Tacoma and Nisqually from the circuitous BNSF freight line along the coast to a passenger oriented inland route. The new routing will enable WSDOT to operate two additional round trip Cascades trains from Portland to Seattle and Sound Transit’s Sounder to extend service to Lakewood. The project will reduce travel time by 6 minutes between Portland and Seattle as well as avoid freight traffic interference through two single-track tunnels and port activities along the current route. Ultimately, Amtrak services will relocate to the newly constructed Freighthouse Square station in Tacoma providing direct access to Sound Transit’s Sounder commuter rail, and Link light rail to downtown Tacoma.

Given these benefits, is the proposed design of this project really worth sacrificing the potential transit orient development of the Dome District into an active urban environment?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buses to Replace LINK During Filming

A film crew will shut down Commerce Street between S. 15th and S. 17th Streets on Friday, November 21, 2008. The time frame the production coordinator has given is 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. However, Pierce Transit suspects the closure may occur as early as 1:00 p.m.

Tacoma Link will not be able to operate while during the shoot, so Pierce Transit will provide the Link Service (using Sound Transit buses) during this event. The PT operated Link service will serve all of the regular station stops except for the stop at Pacific Avenue at S. 19th (UW). For this stop, passengers may catch the Link Bus at temporary stops located at the regular fixed route bus stops both directions on Pacific Avenue. There will be large banners for the temporary Link stops at each location. In addition, there will be a temporary stop located westbound on S. 25th Street just before the Link Bus will turn right on to Pacific Avenue as it heads in to downtown Tacoma.

The PT operated Link service will resemble the regular Link service schedule. And, just like Link, the “bus service” will be free.

We don't know what is being you?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Planning for Tacoma's Future at the City Center Luncheon

Make your lunch hour count by coming to the City Center Luncheon, THE place to find out about the plans that are shaping Tacoma's future. The City Center Luncheon is a quarterly event organized by the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.

What: City Center Luncheon - “Planning for Tacoma ’s Future”
When: Friday, November 14, 11:30 a.m. (registration), 12:00 p.m.– 1:15 p.m. (program)
Where: The Tacoma Club 1201 Pacific Ave., #1600

Sponsored by Frontier Bank

Presentations at the Luncheon include:
  • Downtown Plan Update / City of Tacoma - Ryan Petty and Peter Huffman
  • UWT Master Plan Update / University of Washington Tacoma – Milt Tremblay
  • Update on Paid Parking Research in Downtown/ Parking Implementation Committee – Marty Campbell
  • Commuting Options for Downtown Businesses / Tacoma Pierce County Chamber– Jessica Holden
  • Plans for the Luzon Building Renovation / Gintz Group – Karsen Keever
  • Introducing Tollefest - a winter festival in Tollefson Plaza / Tacoma Pierce County Chamber – Joanne Buselmeier

Register by visiting the Chamber's Website or call Janice Hutchins, 253.627.2175,