Puget Sound Transportation Projects
Sounder - Future Routes
Note: All routes except for the extension to Lakewood are speculatitive and should not be taken as anything official from Sound Transit or any other authority.
South Tacoma/Lakewood Extension
This is the planned and under construction extension of the Sounder commuter rail line through Tacoma's Nalley Valley to South Tacoma and to Lakewood. Using the existing rails which will also support Amtrak's passenger rail service, the trains will cross Pacific Avenue on a new bridge, then head up the valley to the South Tacoma station at 56th street. The line will continue from there to the Lakewood Station just off of Pacific Highway.
The stations are now complete and work to rehabilitate the track is underway. The line should open in 2011.
This line will add dramatically to the usage of the Sounder system, by allowing access from both South Tacoma and the Lakewood areas. It should also help with congestion on Interstate 5 through the Tacoma and Lakewood areas, by removing the traffic from the roads.
This is a theoretical extension of the Sounder commuter rail line from Lakewood to Dupont, almost at the Pierce County line. The line would continue South from Lakewood, following alongside Interstate 5, passing along Fort Lewis, down to Dupont.
Sound Transit already owns all of this track down to where it rejoins the mainline at Nisqually. Express buses already run from Dupont to Lakewood, and then to Seattle, and are usually full. The line will already be upgraded to support Amtrak trains, including the Talgo-equipped Cascades.
This would be a great idea that wouldn't be that hard or costly to implement. Dupont is a rapidly growing area and congestion on Interstate 5 through Fort Lewis is heavy. Giving another option to commuters like this would be very welcome.
Graham / Mountain Division Extension
This is a theoretical spin off of the current South end Sounder line using the Tacoma Rail Mountain Division to access East Tacoma, Midland, Frederickson and Graham. All of these areas are rapidly growing and especially Frederickson and Graham do not have any freeway access whatsoever. The only access is by Canyon Road or SR 161/Meridian, both heavily overloaded.
This line should have a large ridership. Many people live in Southeast Pierce County as it is far cheaper than areas closer to Tacoma or King County. Allowing rail access into Tacoma, and Seattle, should help the crush of commuters trying to use the overload state highway system in the area currently.
Costs for this expansion would not be overly huge; construction of some stations, rail and crossing upgrades and additional rail equipment.
This idea came to me after taking the train from downtown Tacoma to Northwest Trek. While the train traveled slowly it also made the trip faster than driving, when accounting for traffic and stop lights. The space is definitely there for stations and the track is in decent condition.
This is a proposed spin off of the South Sounder line that would head up the East side of Lake Washington to take commuters to Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond. The line would use the currently abandoned Woodinville Subdivision, last used by the Spirit of Washington dinner train, to head to Bellevue and Kirkland. Taking the line all the way to Woodinville would allow backtracking into Redmond.
Connections (by bus or light rail) could be provided in Bellevue to Microsoft and other high tech employers in the Overlake area. In fact, room exists in the area where I-405 intersects SR 520 for a station and even facilities for buses or light rail.
This line would solve the states worst traffic problem: Interstate 405. Conceived as a bypass for Seattle, the highway now runs through some of the most expensive real estate in the country and home of many of the high tech employers, including Microsoft. Being the only North-South connection on the Eastside, the road is horribly overloaded daily by commuters headed to these high tech jobs. While Metro and Sound Transit have done well with express buses, most routes originate or pass through downtown Seattle, and are tied up in the same overloaded freeway. North from the South end and South from the North end are backed up daily, with the reverse being true in the evenings.
The East Link light rail line should be open to Overlake by 2020; however for those from the North or South end you either have to take a bus or the Sounder into Seattle, or Link from one of the end stations (Lynnwood or Federal Way) and transfer downtown to the East Link. This will be very time consuming versus taking Sounder to Tukwilla and transferring, or switching the train onto another line. It should also be noted that the easement for this line already exists. With some track and signal work, and a bridge across I-405 at Wilburton the line would be up and running shortly.
With an extension to Woodinville, it would also be possible to extend the line from Woodinville to Snohomish, and then to Everett, allowing Northend commuters to also travel to the Eastside.
Given the high cost of real estate, and even rentals, on the Eastside coupled with a lack of freeways, many employees must commute. The concentration of high tech industries in the area removes for many people the option of working closer to home. Opening this rail line should dramatically reduce traffic and be at full ridership almost immediately. A train ride, especially with access to WiFi and power, allowing for some telecommuting, is much better than slogging your way through heavy traffic.