Tacoma bakery feared light rail construction could end business

The companies want to see more communication about the project, which has now been delayed for at least another eight months.

TACOMA, Washington – The Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma light rail extension project Originally due to be completed in May 2022, the project has faced a series of delays, which is now pushing its completion to the first quarter of 2023 and putting further pressure on businesses.

“They use [light rail] like ‘we will take advantage of you.’ It will not benefit businesses that will be put out of business by the construction,” said Marie Price, owner of Proof Patisserie & Cafe.

Price said Thursday that construction has moved away from outside her business and onto the street, but she expects it to return. Currently, Sound Transit has construction crews on both sides of its block.

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“With construction going on on the street, there’s no traffic to Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which is my street,” Price said.

Sound Transit said it listens to business concerns and works to highlight local businesses with its Loyal to the Local program. But Price wants to see more communication about the project, which has now been delayed for at least another eight months. She says sometimes construction started outside her apartment building without notice, or a notice was sent out days after construction began.

“We want to work with [businesses]. We want to know what’s going on. And if they have any issues, we want to try to fix them,” said Scott Thompson of Sound Transit.

Thompson said Sound Transit has worked to keep car and pedestrian access open, where possible. Price argues that construction keeps people away. As a young company, she worries about running out of new customers and traffic during the holidays.

“When you have no control and feel completely helpless, that’s the worst feeling,” Price said.

Price looks forward to the benefits of light rail. She plans to use public transit to get to her store. However, she believes businesses in the Hilltop neighborhood deserve more communication and accountability for the delays to the project and the impacts it has had on the neighborhood.

“I have no problem with that happening here, that’s how it’s handled. Knowing that it’s going to happen, they should have put resources in for the businesses that it would affect. The communication would show a little d involvement and caring for the community they affect,” Price said.

Jose P. Rogers