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Above ground or below? Tacoma group wants say in light rail project

An advisory group wants Sound Transit to understand its values as the agency plans for the light rail extension that will eventually connect Seattle to Tacoma.

There are a few outstanding questions when it comes to the Tacoma Dome light rail extension project.

For starters: Will it be above or below ground? Tacoma Councilmember Robert Thoms asked.

Thoms is thinking about the future of rail transportation from Tacoma to Seattle while Sound Transit is trying to determine where the link extension to the rail line will stop near the Tacoma Dome. 

"Eventually, this train right here is going to link to the spine and then go all the way north," he said. "You're going to be able to go to the airport. You're going to be able to go to the University of Washington for a football game."

Councilman Thoms helped to establish a transit-oriented development advisory group for Tacoma. 

"My hope is that its going to be the citizens of Tacoma saying this is what our values are; this is what we want to see in investment," he said. 

He's talking about people like David D’Aniello who helps run a business and is a leader in the Dome District. 

"What we want is we want to be able to get in and out and we want growth," D’Aniello said. 

D’Aniello hopes transit officials will be receptive to the input of the community. 

"I really feel they can have an impact that is positive down here that is going to be generational and if they don't think about it or get the proper input they could really screw it up," D’Aniello said. 

The Puyallup Tribe has also weighed in. 

In a statement issued in May, the tribe said an underground station could possibly disrupt cultural and human remains. The tribe say it will continue to actively work with Sound Transit. 

The Tacoma Dome Link Extension will extend the growing regional light rail system nearly 10 miles between Federal Way and Tacoma. The project includes four stations near south Federal Way, Fife, east Tacoma, and the Tacoma Dome. 

Service is expected to start in 2030.