TACOMA, Wash. — The long-awaited Hilltop Link light rail extension in Tacoma is officially open to riders. The extension doubles the length of the T Line, providing service throughout the city with seven new stations.
It's a moment that's been a long time coming for commuters, travelers and local residents.
"Who would've thought when we took that vote, that we would finally be here, today actually opening up the T Line, in Hilltop, Tacoma," said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards.
Woodards spoke in front of a packed crowd Saturday morning, Sept. 1, thrilled to introduce the city to the Hilltop Extension. The project will hopefully open the door to new opportunities, connecting people from all walks of life, she said.
"This is about walking out what equity really looks like,” said Woodards. “When we make investments in historically marginalized communities who have been waiting so long for this opportunity and today, we delivered that promise."
The extension adds 2.4 miles of track with the seven stations. It runs every day in 12- to 20-minute intervals. The link extension is projected to double the current number of daily riders, increasing to about 4,000 people.
"This is life changing to an area where 27 percent of households don't own a car,” said Washington Senator Maria Cantwell. “If you are a student at Stadium High, SOTA High or Evergreen, now you have another way to get to school. If you have an appointment at Tacoma General or St. Joe's, you also have an easier way to get there."
Cantwell said more than half of the project's cost of nearly $283 million was federally funded. The expansion was approved by voters back in 2008 and construction started in 2018.
Despite the long process, riders are responding positively.
"[It] was worth the wait. It's going to be interesting to ride it and to actually see, but I really think it was worth the wait," said Jim Burdick.