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Lawmakers 'disappointed' after Tacoma-Seattle light rail project delayed

The light rail project once again was delayed last week, this time to 2035.

TACOMA, Wash. — Lawmakers are pushing Sound Transit for answers after another delay in the multi-billion project to link Tacoma and Seattle by light rail.

On Feb. 28, Sound Transit announced another delay for the Tacoma Dome Link Extension, pushing the start of service back to 2035.

“This is disappointing and now, five years after it was promised to voters of the South Sound, we have to wait again,” said Ryan Mello, Pierce County Council chair. “I am deeply disappointed and frustrated. I believe Sound Transit must work to provide transportation options to the South Sound sooner rather than later; it is not an option to accept the delay with no mitigation.”

The project initially was approved in 2016 and scheduled to open in 2030. This most recent delay pushed the timeline back three years from the last delay, which pushed the start of service to 2032.

In a release, Mello offered several steps he and the rest of the Pierce County Council believe Sound Transit should take in the interim to address the South Sound's transportation needs.

  • Increasing opportunities for people to use Sounder Commuter Rail services throughout Pierce County, including more daily train runs to the South Sound, an extension to DuPont as quickly as possible, and better, safer station access
  • Increasing Sound Transit ground transportation options with an expansion of express bus route services and frequency between Pierce County and King County
  • Partnering with Pierce Transit (PT) to increase point-to-point transportation options like dial-a-lift or the PT runner to connect to ST express bus service stations and Sounder train stations

“We plan to work with our County and City council colleagues to put our requests into a formal letter to Sound Transit,” said Mello and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “We understand issues arise in projects, especially one in the size and scope of ST3; however, that doesn't change the fact we need and deserve reliable transportation through the Puget Sound region now. Pierce County residents are paying Sound Transit taxes and have been for years with little value in return in the short term.”

The Pierce County Council will review the letter for Sound Transit at its meeting Tuesday. A letter for discussion is planned for a meeting on March 14.

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