Sound Transit Unveils New Train for Tacoma Line Light Rail Extension

Sound Transit received the first of the trains that will run on the Hilltop Extension of Tacoma’s light rail system.

TACOMA, Wash. – Jennifer Richardson is excited about all the new customers Light Rail will bring to his Hilltop cafe, the Red Elm Cafe. However, dealing with construction has its drawbacks.

“We hope to be able to feed and caffeine the nurses and doctors of the two [Tacoma General] and St. Joe’s,” she said. “There were many times when my entire parking lot was pulled out, and the drilling and noise, intermittently, drove customers away, but we got away with it. went out. In fact, I’m really proud of us.

But she won’t have to wait too long.

Sound Transit introduced the first of five light rail trains for the extension Tuesday, which is set to run from St. Joseph’s Hospital to the Tacoma Dome. The state-of-the-art trains can carry up to 100 people and are accessible to people with bicycles and wheelchairs.

The extension is expected to open by the first quarter of 2023, and agency officials say they are confident they will meet that deadline.

As well as making it easier for people to get around, Sound Transit Board chairman Kent Keel says the project also provides work for the community.

“Sound Transit is also adding thirty new paid jobs to our Tacoma Link staff, which includes more train operators and maintenance personnel,” he reported.

But as excitement grows for the light rail’s debut, there are still concerns about the potential displacement of Hilltop residents.

Tacoma has adopted policies to address displacement since 2018 as part of its Affordable Housing Action Strategy.

Board member Kristina Walker pledged that Tacoma would make a concerted effort to maintain these policies as the project develops.

“We passed the anti-displacement resolution last fall as part of our work,” Walker said. “We will continue to do so to keep that goal central to our Home in Tacoma work, and we will continue to make Hilltop a goal of that work as well.”

In the meantime, Richardson has only one request: “Hurry up and get it done!”

Jose P. Rogers