Sound Transit's Solid Berm Visuals Re-Imagined

posted Jul 28, 2009
THE TACOMIC - Sound Transit's Solid Berm Visuals Re-Imagined (sound transit, berm)
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7/27 - PHOTOS -- Sound Transit Dome District Walking Tour, TDI -- Reporter's Blog

7/27 - Sound Transit, Dome District stakeholders will discuss D-to-M Street route today, Tacoma Daily Index

7/27 - Sound Transit won't budget on berms, Tacoma News Tribune

7/27 - Despite objections, Sound Transit unlikely to change commuter rail design, Political Buzz

7/13 - D-to-M Street Commuter Rail Bridge Design Workshop, Exit133

6/26 - Imagine Tacoma - El-evate Sounder, Exit133

12/13/2007 - A "prophet without honor?", Inside the Editorial Page

11/25/2007 - Sounder Train through Downtown, The Bus Stops Here

11/25/2007 - A message to the council: Stop that train!, Tacoma News Tribune

9/19/2007 - Good guys slow speeding train, Tacoma News Tribune

Do It Right Tacoma

Sounder: Who's Riding Whom?, Tacomic

by NineInchNachos on 7/28/2009 @ 11:06am
"It's not too late to stop the berm but we need more citizen support, please spread the word. We're not trying to slow the project down, we just want it done correctly using Post and Beam elevated construction."

please sign the petition, email this to everyone you know...

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2009 @ 12:42am
Thanks for signing the petition Mr. Morgan Alexander

by morgan on 8/4/2009 @ 9:24am
Remember: Only YOU Can Prevent Berming

by morgan on 8/4/2009 @ 9:28am
Good column in the TNT:

When it comes to Dome District, Sound Transit planners aren’t listening

by jenyum on 8/4/2009 @ 9:51am
Gotta spread that petition link around if you want it to go anywhere.

by ixia on 8/4/2009 @ 10:50am
Would any other neighborhood in Tacoma be asked to put up and shut up like this? And whatever happened to Jake Fey?

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/4/2009 @ 11:05am
chain ourselves to lightpoles in the right-of-way the night before construction.

It works for Redwoods...

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 8:54am
latest from DIRT....

"TACOMA: Sound Transit’s plan is the wrong one
Published: 08/05/09 12:05 am
Sound Transit wants to run an earthen berm through the middle of the Dome District. It is 10 years behind schedule and now needs to move along with what it designed.
It seems to me that hurry is a bad reason to build something that is supposed to be in place for 50 to 100 years or more. The Dome District is our most viable neighborhood for future density. All major transportation hubs are right here, and it is within walking distance of many downtown attractions.
Cutting the district in half with a berm that will be a weedy mess surrounded by chain- link fence is unconscionable. No other neighborhood would allow that. We are losing commercially viable space and parking necessary for Dome events.
We are losing future development in the area because if will not be financially viable to build next to the berm and have to shore up massive amounts of soil. Earthquakes are another issue; we know what happens when we build on fill.
The movement of thousand of people during Dome and LeMay Museum events will cause safety issues with folks trying to cross the tracks. Tacoma’s own comprehensive plan calls for wildlife corridors in this area; Sound Transit’s current plan is in direct opposition to that.
Tacoma deserves a smart transportation solution that is fit for an urban area. Let’s demand smart, forward-looking planning with livability of our communities at heart. Let’s build post and beam. "

by The Jinxmedic on 8/5/2009 @ 11:26am
Ocryx and Joe can address this issue too, if I can ever get those guys to load up correctly. Crazy crows.

"Stop the Berlin Wall of Tacoma".

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 12:22pm
So, I have seen comments claiming that the berms are bad for a wildlife corridor from various people, but no one has ever substantiated that claim with facts or testimonial from any wildlife biologists that I know of. I have to imagine that there isn't much wildlife down there, and of what there is, 4 legged wildlife would prefer grassy berms more than post and beams.

Of course, 2 legged wildlife will find many varied uses for the post and beam construction.

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 1:05pm
most wildlife i'm familiar with is allergic to train collisions.

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 1:13pm
So I get it. The few blocks of post and beam construction in the Dome District will keep 4 legged wildlife off the train tracks. That makes alot of sense. What kind of animals do we have down there anyway...... possum, mice, rats, what am I forgetting? It will also provide 2 legged animals habitat underneath it.

BTW, the seattle transit blog has been talking about us. I sometimes read it, but never bother to comment on it as I live in Tacoma (not Lakewood)...........

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 1:16pm
I've seen a pink elephant with water coming out of its snout down that way too.

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 1:43pm
So the wildlife claims are bogus, agreed? Can we all just admit that this part of the story is all fiction, OK?

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 2:00pm
I agree that people for the berm would like the wildlife issue to be a fiction yes.

Sound Transit Hates Tacoma

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 2:07pm
I don't care if we berm or use post and beams. I just want more Sounder round trips to and from Seattle, plus better Amtrak service as soon as possible.

If you have actual valid wildlife concerns, you should have some data to support you claims. Otherwise no serious person in a decision making position will listen to you.

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 2:15pm
so lets do a study before dumping pont ruston tailings in the middle of our city. The dome district deserves better than a frontal lobotomy.

david boe says:

"what is missing in the berm or beam discussion is exactly what is happening at Pacific Avenue (in fact the last walk-about with Pat McCarthy last week didn't even go over to Pacific!). Because Sound Transit has to design a rail line that needs to get under I-705 and then utlimately meet-up with the track elevation at 'M' Street up in Nalley Valley, the new track line will actually cross Pacific Avenue about 8 feet above the existing pavement. So - once Southbound traffic crosses the bLINK lines at S. 25th Street, they have to immediately drop at a significant slope (like N. 30th in Old Town steep) to get under this rail crossing and the associated structure - to a total depth below existing grade of 16 feet and taking the South Tacoma Way intersection down with it. And then the roadway has to start screaming up to meet the bridge elevation over I-5. All because the City Council a number of years ago directed Sound Transit to have a separated crossing at Pacific. Now I would understand that concern if Pacific was going to the only at-grade crossing - but they are all going to be at grade through Tacoma - East D (where the kiddies are going to the Monster Truck show), East C, Pine, S. 56th, S. 74, etc.... and with trains that are going really fast - not slowing down or speeding up to leave a station. The construction costs are high and going higher - so why not revisit the at-grade? - makes the berm/beam less, saves money on relocating infrastructure, lot easier and faster to construct (so less disruption to the Dome District) and at the end of the day keeps the integrity (sic) of Pacific Avenue and the Dome District reasonably intact. I guess it might take some imagining."

by NSHDscott on 8/5/2009 @ 2:19pm
If there's no data does that mean it isn't true?

I'm guessing the wildlife corridor is in Tacoma's comprehensive plan (according to NIN) for a reason. Maybe there's data there or not, I don't know. I'd rather make a mistake in favor of wildlife (and get all the other benefits of post and beam) than make a mistake that hurts wildlife.

And by the way, I have seen deer in downtown Tacoma. I think these particular deer came from the wooded area below Stadium Way but it definitely points to the existence of wildlife around here.

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 2:25pm
"If there's no data does that mean it isn't true"

Wasn't that used as one of the reasons to invade Iraq?

I see deer in my yard all the time. The trains along ruston way seem to help them get around, not hinder them. Presence of animals is not the question. Scientific opinion by a qualified wildlife biologist as to whether the berms would help or hurt may be useful to your case.

by jenyum on 8/5/2009 @ 2:25pm
I wouldn't say it's the best part of the argument, but the wildlife thing is not fiction.

Here are some photos I took today of the "B street" (B st actually ends before the ravine) area:

B St area

B St area

In a city where we routinely see deer in my neighborhood just North of downtown, and have even spotted Coyotes in Wright Park, I wouldn't say it's incorrect that wildlife would use this corridor, which extends from Puyallup Ave through to the McKinley area. (Where there's quite a bit of vegetation)

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 2:59pm
"Wasn't that used as one of the reasons to invade Iraq? "

Tacoma1 why do you hate America? You should be thanking our brave military family heroes instead of telling lies and palling round with terrorists. You betcha!

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 3:26pm
I know there is wildlife in Tacoma. That is not the point. The question in regards to the D-M Sounder extension is whether the berm, or post and beam construction method is beneficial or detrimental.

If someone has data, or even an opinion from a qualified wildlife biologist, that would be good information to know. It might make the case difinitively for post and beam, or maybe that the berm is best, no one seems to know at this point.

Since the post and beam camp brought it up, I figured that they should actually know which is best.

by jenyum on 8/5/2009 @ 4:10pm
I don't happen to have a wildlife biologist in my back pocket, but I did find this:

Most of the negative impacts cited would seem to be related to the type of crossing. Not having a berm would negate the need for a fence and associated problems.

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 4:26pm
Nice article, and it makes sense. What is not known is if the few blocks of post and beam or berm rail road crossing are also in a significant wildlife corridor. If it isn't, then none of this matters. If it is, that would be important and significant. I suspect that if it was, that information would be out already.

Doesn't the City employ a wildlife biologist? If not, there has to be a UWT professor that could have a professional and knowledgeable unbiased opinion on the subject.

by ixia on 8/5/2009 @ 6:00pm
There is photo documentation of wildlife, dear in the gulch for example. I have seen rabbits and weasel, ducks and geese. They can fly, yes, but not the little ones. Have a look at DIRT’s documentation of what’s in the neighborhood. Tacoma's comprehensive plan calls for wildlife corridors for a reason. You can see bias in that, Tacoma Number One. Just because you don’t see wildlife, does not mean it is does not exist.

by tacoma1 on 8/5/2009 @ 6:18pm
Just saying you should have a professional unbiased opinion for wildlife corridor claims. If this is a wildlife corridor, I would be against anything that impacted it negatively. I am not for the berm or against the berm. I am for transit.

I see deer, raccoon, and possums in my yard now and then, but that doesn't make my yard a wildlife corridor.

Unsubstantiated claims and name calling don't help make your case.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/5/2009 @ 6:22pm
All the wildlife I see are opossums, raccoons and feral cats.

I'm more interested in how the berm will affect human life and our psychology. We see now, in hindsight that I-5 tore our city in half, and most cities with that wound still have yet to fully heal from it.
Do we really want to do that again to the Dome District?

by ixia on 8/5/2009 @ 7:13pm
It seems to me there are so many more reasons not to berm than there are to berm. Cost difference appears to be less than 1/2 percent. So without more information from ST I have to think Anderson and McCarthy have their reason to sell out the Dome District to get something in return. Counting votes for the Auditor position quickly shows that the Dome District has a handful, compared to almost 60�000 in Lakewood. And if McCarthy wants to finally bring the Cross Base highway to fruition and complete Ladenburg�s legacy, a little give and take is in order. Giving away a quiet little neighborhood now will come in handy down the road.

by NineInchNachos on 8/5/2009 @ 8:31pm
Isn't it funny that it was Julie Anderson who showed a backbone speaking out against the retarding brick wall the Washington state history museum wanted to put in front of the bridge of glass, yet she is AWOL is speaking out against the retarding berm across the dome district?

Where is Julie Anderson?

julie Anderson

by Erik on 8/5/2009 @ 10:37pm
We need a Jane Jacobs type local hero to fight the Berm:

Wrestling With Moses

To a young Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, with its winding cobblestone streets and diverse makeup, was everything a city neighborhood should be. The activist, writer, and mother of three grew so fond of her bustling community that it became a touchstone for her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But consummate power broker Robert Moses, the father of many of New York's most monumental development projects, saw things differently: neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village were badly in need of urban renewal. Notorious for exacting enormous human costs, Moses plans had never before been halted not by governors, mayors, or FDR himself, and certainly not by a housewife from Scranton.

The epic rivalry of Jacobs and Moses, played out amid the struggle for the soul of a city, is one of the most dramatic and consequential in modern American history. In Wrestling with Moses, acclaimed reporter and urban planning policy expert Anthony Flint recounts this thrilling David-and-Goliath story, the legacy of which echoes through our society today.

Also see:

Opposing expressways and supporting neighborhoods were common themes in her life. In 1962, she was the chairperson of the “Joint Committee to Stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway”, when the downtown expressway plan was killed.

She was again involved in stopping the Lower Manhattan Expressway and was arrested during a demonstration on April 10, 1968. Jacobs opposed Robert Moses, who had already forced through the Cross-Bronx Expressway and other roadways against neighborhood opposition.

A late 1990s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary series on New York’s history devoted a full hour of its fourteen-hours to the battle between Moses and Jacobs. The earlier, highly critical Moses biography The Power Broker does not mention her and gives only passing mention to this event.

by fredo on 8/6/2009 @ 6:25am
Ugly berm construction vs. ugly post and beam construction.

This impossible situation was entirely foreseeable years ago when Pierce voters elected to join Sound Transit. Either alternative is going to create a neighborhood-dividing eyesore. Oh well, at least when its all finished a few folks in Lakewood will be able to expand their job search into Seattle.

by jenyum on 8/6/2009 @ 10:04am
I think part of the problem here is that everyone thinks they are Jane Jacobs.

I'm trying to step back and understand all of the details, which is hard to do with things like the Seattle Transit Blog out there, fairly begging for an argument.

by Erik on 8/6/2009 @ 10:25am
I think part of the problem here is that everyone thinks they are Jane Jacobs.

I wish.

Unfortunately, Tacomans have pretty well been resigned to losing a significant amount of the dome district.

Unlike JJ in NYC, few people live in the Dome District so most people are ready to have a portion of it sacrificed.

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 10:58am

here are those seattle blog posts. It must be fun to look down from the ivory space-tower at us stupid Tacoma people trying to preserve our town.

by tacoma1 on 8/6/2009 @ 11:42am
When we in Tacoma make this conversation into us against Seattle. Or try to say that the only ones to benefit in this is a few commuters in Lakewood, I believe we do ourselves a huge disservice, and loose credibility.

The D-M extension benefits South Tacoma, as we now have a station built, and basically in waiting.

The D-M extension benefits Lakewood, who also has a station built and ready for passengers.

The D-M extension benefits T Dome passengers as well, as it will finally allow more round trip service, by allowing access to enough parking space for all of the extra Sounder trains that will need to be parked in Lakewood.

And finally, D-M allows Amtrak to separate the freight trains and passenger trains, which will provide faster, and more reliable Amtrak service.

All of these areas of service contain voters, and also politicians that represent these voters. By insulting or ignoring Lakewood, I'm sure that they feel the same way that we do when Seattle bloggers insult our town. By totalling ignoring South Tacoma, we are in essence, insulting and ignoring our own neighbors. Not a good way to get a helping hand when we need it.

There are legitimate concerns with the post and beam construction method, excessive cost, security issues, elevated train tracks also have elevated noise, future expansion would be more limited. There are also legitimate concerns with the berm method, mainly centering around accessibility (both visually and physically) for this area, and also which would be better for future growth and viability for the Dome District. I believe that if we center the conversation around these issues, Tacoma and the T-Dome district will be better off.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/6/2009 @ 11:43am

I'm glad some folks genuinely think they're helping. Not glad the other 90% think we owe them for the privilege of having "their" train come to our lowly podunk town.

Why the hell is this arrogant attitude so damn prevalent in Seattle and Bellevue? It's not like their streets are paved in gold.

by ixia on 8/6/2009 @ 11:57am
Their streets perhaps are paved in gold. All development was made with the car in mind. And cars are what they got. Not exactly the right folks to look to advice in matters of public transit.

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 12:01pm
you know there is a lot I agree with in the talking points of Tacoma1, however from my perspective as a cartoonist, the seattle blog's perspective of 'why should you even care it's tacoma we're talking bout... drill baby drill' is a gold vein waiting to be mined.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/6/2009 @ 12:13pm
"There are legitimate concerns with the post and beam construction issues..."

Oh, puhleeze. All security is an illusion. I can't believe some people are scared of big bad Osama Bin Rotten.

The real security threats aren't terrorists... that's just a game of shadows on the wall. The real threats are in the District of Columbia.

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 12:20pm
terrorists are real. Just look at the health insurance industrial complex. cosmic horror!

by jenyum on 8/6/2009 @ 12:27pm
A rather lengthy design review document that provides a lot more background on the information:

Commissioned by Sound Transit, and naturally some dude at "" had to upload it to his/her site. I read through it but I'm not sure what to think. Does anyone know if the bridge it describes at Pacific is the current design recommendation that ST is going with?

Have you seen the publically available Sound Transit info on this project? It's pretty insulting in its vagueness.

by boearc on 8/6/2009 @ 12:51pm
The orignial Sound Transit Sounder extension that went to the voters stated that the Sounder Connection was going to use 'existing rail track' So when a new rail line connection has to be developed because this original assumptions on ST's part is no longer possible given the changes in the negotiations with BNSF - then the new extension should be an improvement to the urban enviroment beyond the existing condition (and not an improvement just because it is providing additional transit options).

by NSHDscott on 8/6/2009 @ 2:41pm
tacoma1, your last post completely misrepresented the situation. This argument isn't about whether or not to build the D-M extension, it's HOW to build it.

Even though, as boearc just pointed out, the plans have changed to apparently necessitate this extention when it wasn't necessary when we voted for the tax measure in the first place, we've given in to it (except Mr. Boe, maybe).

At the root of everything isn't wildlife, even though that was a nice tangent for a while. (I'm SO SORRY I don't have a wildlife biologist at the ready and I don't think that the lack of a scientific opinion automatically means there is no wildlife there.)

The root is that it's becoming clear that a whole lot of people, including smarties like architects, think the D-M extension should be built one way that only increases the cost a little bit, and pseudo-government Sound Transit is willing to hear those opinions but not listen to them.

For me, their resistance has really damaged their reputation. I'm kind of afraid of them now because seemingly they're just going to do what they want to do, who cares about the people it'll affect. And it's all for pocket change, in ST's world. Then they'll probably spend double that in ads to try to make me love them again.

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 4:01pm
so the admin at that seattle transit blog called david boe a liar then deleted all my funny posts. especially the link to my first sounder cartoon that really freaked them out!

by tacoma1 on 8/6/2009 @ 4:35pm
@ NineInchNachos
Dude, who's side are you on? Are you really trying to piss off every transit supporter in the state, or does that just come naturally?

Next time I'm in Seattle, I'm going to tell everyone I'm from California.........anywhere but Tacoma!

by NSHDscott on 8/6/2009 @ 4:56pm
Or you could just move there ... just sayin' ...

Love that Tacoma pride!

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 4:56pm
whose side am I on? same side as you. My own side! ha hah. but seriously; The Baroness™ quotes aside, let's frame the debate differently and look for a third way and a real alternative that solves real problems.

by jenyum on 8/6/2009 @ 5:03pm
I can't deal with that blog, I really need to stop looking.

If they had even one regular contributor who was not a self-righteous 20 something male maybe they'd have a bit more of a sense of humor and a bit less groupthink going on.

(Didn't Hitler say he was from California?)

by ixia on 8/6/2009 @ 5:19pm
Hitler said he was German, while in actuality he was Austrian. Not sure if that had to do with some public transport issue of the time.
I think housing in California is way cheap at the moment. And now that we are somewhat acclimated to the weather……………
(need to stop looking too)

by tacoma1 on 8/6/2009 @ 5:29pm
Hitler? Can you be any more offensive? What is wrong with you people?

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/6/2009 @ 5:43pm
Goodwin's law strikes again.

by ixia on 8/6/2009 @ 5:51pm
Tacoma1, yes, that was totally out of order, sorry. I am not sure what's wrong...

by jenyum on 8/6/2009 @ 6:54pm
Sorry that was a comment about RR's (joke) comment on the other blog, which you now can't see.

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 7:02pm
"Comment by Ben Schiendelman
2009-08-06 15:42:08
You’re welcome. I’m just frustrated with all this, I know that eventually Tacoma’s downtown will grow and a lot of that one story development will get bigger, I just don’t see it happening for a long time. And I keep noting that other cities build around rail lines in their urban core pretty effectively! Most of the big cities have rails through them."

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 7:08pm
I demand to see this "Ben Schiendelman"s birth certificate. I don't believe he is a real person. He's just an internet meme designed to infuriate Tacomans.

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 7:12pm
for posterity: all my Hitler comments were taken out of context.

hitler and the devil

by NineInchNachos on 8/6/2009 @ 7:41pm
even so, I'm glad Julie Anderson is starting to speak out on behalf of the people of Tacoma. Check out this Tacoma News Tribune guest editorial

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/6/2009 @ 10:22pm
Great! Speaking out at the bottom of the 9th is just so helpful and politico.

by Jay Israel on 8/7/2009 @ 12:04am
"The orignial Sound Transit Sounder extension that went to the voters stated that the Sounder Connection was going to use 'existing rail track' So when a new rail line connection has to be developed because this original assumptions on ST's part is no longer possible given the changes in the negotiations with BNSF - then the new extension should be an improvement to the urban enviroment beyond the existing condition (and not an improvement just because it is providing additional transit options)."

Just like to clear up this point. This extension has been planned since the original vote that created Sound Transit in 1996, it wasn't part of the recent vote on ST2. It is also part of the state's Point Defiance Bypass plan for Amtrak, which has been in the works since 1994. It is using an existing rail right-of-way, you just can't see it because the rail from D Street to South C Street was ripped out some time ago. The alignment of South Tacoma Way is the way it is because it used to follow these tracks into Tacoma. So it's not really an extension, just a reconnection of what was once there. Regardless, I hope you guys get this worked out soon, South Tacoma is waiting!

by Nick on 8/7/2009 @ 10:00am

Wow, I can't believe the STB deleted links to your cartoons, while they are a *featured* part of Feed Tacoma. I look forward to them every week! And deleting posts? What a bunch of prudes!

Reminds me of another blog we all knew and loved that liked to delete posts with differing views...

by Nick on 8/7/2009 @ 10:08am
(only partially teasing STB readers - every community is entitled to shape themselves how they want, I just happen to disagree in this case - uncensored dialogues are just so much more interesting!)

by NineInchNachos on 8/7/2009 @ 10:11am
Nick. It is obvious that the online communities of Tacoma are accustom to very low standards of decency in both cartooning and civility.

Our moral high-ground is in reality a berm worthy only of train tracks (which will be expanded to double train tracks at some point to better serve the Seattle bloggers).

by Nick on 8/7/2009 @ 10:36am
Indeed, clearly Seattle bloggers' intertubes can't handle our gritty blogosphere, just as their lungs aren't advanced enough to handle our gritty atmosphere!

by boearc on 8/7/2009 @ 10:57am
I am not aware nor have seen any existing historical documentation that there was an existing crossing of any rail line between S. 25th and S. 26th Street accross Pacific Avenue (the Prairie Line at S. 17th yes but not in the location of the ST crossing). Yes there is a rail right-of-way that extends down from M Street - but my understanding was that this was serviced from the Mountain Line that leaves East C Street and heads South and then comes around and services Nalley Veally from the Southend. I have seen historical copies of newspapers where in the 19c railway companies were trying to make this connection across Pacific Avenue and were subsequently sent packing by the politcal powers who did not want the railway to cut-off access to the South. So - to say it was always in the planning may be a correct statment - but this issue is that the proposal to voters with the first ST vote was that the Sounder Connection was going to be expanded using existing railway - not creating new railway; therefore, it new railway is going be created across the main street of Tacoma, I think it should not total muck-it-up. As for the Seattle references, I think most of the railway that comes through their downtown is in a large cut or in a tunnerl coming in from the North and then daylights a full story below Jackson Street at King Street Station. I don't think Mayor Schell would be happy if First Avenue had to be dug down 16 feet at Jackson if their heavy rail had run along ther waterfront and need to cross over to meet a connection point to provide service.

by Jay Israel on 8/7/2009 @ 12:56pm
I was thinking of the Prairie Line, until 2003 it was still operating behind UWT and crossing Pacific by Union Station. The line along South Tacoma Way from M street to Lakewood was part of this line. With all the ruckus over this issue I thought it was this crossing that was being reopened. I suppose if you insist that ST uses existing track they could reopen that part of the Prairie Line, but it seems a new crossing at 26th would be preferable.

Actually Seattle is closing Royal Brougham to accommodate the additional tracks coming out of King Street Station and building a huge monstrosity of an overpass to handle the freeway traffic. They're also raising Lander to go over the tracks and closing Holgate. All three of these streets are just as busy as Pacific in Tacoma and are in an area that's much more developed than the Dome District. Tacoma doesn't have a monopoly on dealing with new regional infrastructure projects. And comparing Pacific at 26th to 1st Ave in downtown Seattle, really? That's a bit of a stretch.

And oh yeah, Paul Schell hasn't been mayor of Seattle since 2001. I'm behind you on making this extension work for my fellow citizens of Tacoma, but adding a bunch of silliness to your arguments isn't going to strengthen your position, as a professional you should know that.

by jenyum on 8/7/2009 @ 1:05pm
The King Street area is a mess, as anyone who has ever tried to cross to the Sounder tracks can attest. I'm not sure what the right solution is for Tacoma but I would like to avoid anything that looks remotely like that.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/7/2009 @ 2:34pm
You know, the more this goes on, the worse and worse ST is looking. Who did they hire as their designer? IM Pei?

by boearc on 8/7/2009 @ 3:03pm
Right - Pacific Avenue. What once was the grand avenue of the Pacific Northwest (pre-1895 crash)- when Seattle was the original Skid Row and continually sinking into the mire - really why should we care about what happens to Pacific Avenue? That of course beg the question of what streets in Downtown Tacoma we should care about about being screwed-up (under) by a large public project? Broadway that was cut-off from being the sublime connector of St. Helens to Jefferson Street by the Convention Center? Really, if not Pacific Avenue - what street should we care about what happens to it? And given how long this project will be with us - 100 years - what will future generations of Tacomans think about such a short term solution that has such a long term impact?

by ixia on 8/7/2009 @ 3:24pm
Really.Building for the next hundred years needs to be the greatest concern. Not public meetings on which one of four colors we'd like to paint the bridge over Pacific.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/7/2009 @ 4:00pm
When dealing with politicians and corporations, "long term" usually means "just past my term in office or on the board"... not century+

by boearc on 8/7/2009 @ 4:24pm
Sorry about the Paul Schell reference - it must be the lingering PTSD from when he was the project manger for Cornerstone and led the charge for demolition of two blocks of listed buildings along Pacific Avenue between Luzon and the Giradelli (S. 13th and S. 15) - but then again, it was just Pacific Avenue. As head of the ST Board, I am sure Mayor Greg Nickels would be all for depressing First Avenue to go under a Sounder Line Extension if need be in order to service a project 500 commuters.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/7/2009 @ 4:33pm
"As head of the ST Board, I am sure Mayor Greg Nickels would be all for depressing First Avenue to go under a Sounder Line Extension"

Well, if the kickback has enough figures in it...

by NineInchNachos on 8/7/2009 @ 4:47pm
Can tacoma borrow the humongous tunnel boring machine after seattle is done with it?

by NSHDscott on 8/7/2009 @ 4:55pm
Hey Jay, I think it's safe to say that Pacific Ave is to Tacoma what 1st Ave is to Seattle, isn't it? Even if one is greater than the other, they have the same (high) significance to their respective cities?

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/7/2009 @ 5:27pm
Isn't the significance to the city the better metric?
I mean, afterall:
Hwy 2 -> Leavenworth = Hwy 101 -> Seaside =SR 7 -> Roy = SR 99 -> Federal Way = Pac Ave -> Tacoma = 1st Ave -> Seattle

by Jay Israel on 8/7/2009 @ 5:51pm
I don't remember saying that we shouldn't care about Pacific Avenue, I'm just saying that when you make it a Seattle vs. Tacoma thing it detracts from the real issue. Tacoma isn't the poor step-child you want people to believe it is and Seattle doesn't always get it's way. Look at how they're getting screwed on the SR99 tunnel deal, a tunnel that nobody but the state wants. When was the last time Tacoma had to pay $2 billion for a road it didn't want? But I digress.

I agree that Pacific Ave. is as important as 1st Ave. I just disagree that Pacific at 26th is the same as 1st and Jackson, as boearc claimed in his previous argument. If 1st Ave in the SoDo district had to be lowered to accommodate a transit project I doubt if anyone would care and it certainly wouldn't impede any of the development that's going on there. And if they were trying to mess with Pacific nearer to downtown I would care more and give more credence to the claims that this project is going to have an impact on development in Tacoma. Can anyone explain to me how lowering Pacific and putting a bridge over it is going to screw-up the entire street? Let alone the entire district. Or am I just supposed to take the rhetoric as fact?

by tacoma1 on 8/7/2009 @ 6:00pm

I generally like to read your posts and think that you have valuable insights and information to add to the City of Tacoma, but:

"in order to service a project 500 commuters" is a complete misrepresentation and inaccurate statement of the purpose of the Sounder extension.

by jenyum on 8/7/2009 @ 6:34pm
@tacoma1 in the near term I don't think that's much of an exaggeration. From the sound of it BNSF may have an interest in the project which means it's vulnerable to being taken over by freight right of ways just like the existing line. Even in the long term, we're talking about a project in which planners are speaking in glowing terms about cutting 6 *minutes* off the trip to Portland. (and that not likely if freight gets in the way.)

I would love to see true high speed rail here but I haven't seen anything yet in this plan that leads me to believe that is what we are getting. I used to love to take rail in NJ, NY and CT but I'm very disappointed in these plans which look more like a system that would connect rural outposts than something intended to service a major metropolitan area. And I'd *still* support it, were it not for the way it appears to be being shoved down the throats of Tacomans. We do need an extension of the current system (especially if that's all we're going to get) but not at the cost of our downtown.

I disagree with the idea that the dome district is not close to downtown, it is in downtown. Granted, a part that is not as well developed as others but it's the natural direction for development to take in the next few decades and historically it's definitely a central area.

by Jay Israel on 8/7/2009 @ 6:54pm
The bypass project is about more than just taking time off of the Tacoma-Portland trip. Amtrak can't increase the frequency of trains until this project is complete, and it's an important project to make us more competitive in competing for high-speed rail money, so that the speeds can be increased to compete with air travel to Portland. Outside of the Northeast the Amtrak Cascades is the most successful Amtrak line in the nation. Three-quarters of a million people use it every year, that's nothing to sneeze at.

Just because a few people don't like how it looks doesn't mean it's being shoved down the throats of Tacomans. I be willing to be that most people in Tacoma, outside of the trendy New Tacomans that inhabit downtown, don't give a crap what it looks like. Most residents outside of downtown are already pissed about all the money that's been poured into downtown to the detriment of other Tacoma neighborhoods, and just want this project done so that they can benefit from it. In my opinion, of course. :-)

by ixia on 8/7/2009 @ 7:12pm
It's not about how it looks; it's about how it functions. If we build it, it needs to be integrated and last for a few decades. Imagine how the people "outside of the trendy new Tacomans” (?!?) will be pissed when the thing needs to be re-done, or worse torn apart?

by jenyum on 8/7/2009 @ 7:18pm
This is an issue for the neighborhoods, too. In fact, the neighborhood councils also oppose this design. A physical and visual barrier between downtown and the East/South end is not going to be good for those neighborhoods. If we could so much as squeeze out a promise to maintain the landscaping and not surround the area in chain link fence, I think some of us might be persuaded. But statements like "I don't give a crap what it looks like" are exactly the problem. You might not think you care and you might not think it effects you, but the flow of your city's downtown has effects that reach far beyond one neighborhood.

by tacoma1 on 8/7/2009 @ 7:36pm

Sorry, but the statement is wrong and misleading. Boe should know that even if you don't. The D-M extension will allow ST to nearly double the number of round trip service at T Dome station that we currently have. It will open up the S Tacoma station, and the Lakewood Station. South Tacoma will likely get tons of economic benefit and TOD surrounding their station once it gets open. I don't live there, but I paid taxes on that station and I'd like to put it to work as soon as possible. South Tacoma is an area that has been neglected for decades, they deserve their station to be opened. Amtrak will be able separate the freight and passenger service, which will as you say only save 6 minutes. But what you don't mention or seem to know is that the freight has scheduling priority over passengers. That means the passenger trains sit and wait for freight trains, and therefore are not reliable or on time coming out of Portland. That means if you have to get from Tacoma to Portland on time, don't take the train because the D-M extension isn't done yet. Finally, the ridership that is picked up in Lakewood is the smallest part of the puzzle, (unless you happen to live in Lakewood, but for the purpose of this blog, no one cares about anyone South.....hmmm that seems like the same thing someone said about Seattle).

@Jay Israel
Thank you for your input. I have also been trying to figure out why changing the grade on Pacific Ave is so devastating. I don't get it. Guess I didn't have a chance to drink the "Seattle hates me Koolaid".

by jenyum on 8/7/2009 @ 8:03pm
Oh no, I am familiar with sitting and waiting for the freight trains. (Took us 4 hours to go about 20 miles on the last leg of a trip back from Cali a few years back.) But it concerns me that there doesn't seem to be any guarantee it won't work out the same way once the new line is laid. If there's more money to be made by giving freight the right of way, how do we know that won't happen? It's not like there's no history of Amtrak budget cuts/compromises. The Coast Starlight isn't moving, which makes me wonder when/if the Amtrak station really will move to Freighthouse Square.

I'm just very skeptical about the whole thing. I want to see this built but I don't want to end up with something that ultimately is of little utility to the community *and* cuts a big scar through downtown. I'm not especially open to being trusting when it seems we're already saddled with a few really oddball transit choices. There will have to be compromises, but I don't think Tacoma should just do whatever it's told on this one without exercising a lot of caution.

High speed rail has been "just around the corner" since we lived in Portland in the early 90s. It's not the transit planners and the communities that have held it back but the political will to create the taxes and policies that would make it happen. Now that the political will appears to be there, great, let's get it done, but let's build something we can live with for another hundred years.

by NineInchNachos on 8/7/2009 @ 8:55pm
okay enough of this tit for tat crap. it's obvious that Tacoma1 and Mr. Israel are seeing through our flimsy arguments and so lets put all our cards on the table. No use hiding anymore.


the pro-berm people or simply "bermers" want in inflict communist system of transporation on us, the freedom loving people of Tacoma. Before you know it the Seattle Libtards will be forcing us to build hideous EXPERIENCE MUSIC PROJECT buildings and having NAKED BICYCLE PARADES and before you before you really know it they'll be giving GAYS THE RIGHT TO VOTE!!


BAD TOUCH. BAD TOUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!

by Jay Israel on 8/7/2009 @ 9:34pm

I can only assume you didn't grow up in Tacoma, or else you'd know exactly what I was talking about.


How is it going to be a visual barrier if it is surrounded by new development? Won't those buildings also be a visual barrier? I'm also not convinced that the post-and-beam won't be just as much of a visual blight, I mean if the city can't keep the berm clean how are we to expect them to clean up the trash that collects under the post-and-beam viaduct? It seems like a solid concrete viaduct with some kind of bridge over the gulch might be a better choice, at least then all we'd have to worry about is grafitti. I do agree that it needs to be maintained, but I'm sure ST will do a better job of that than most of the landowners in the Dome District.

And I don't think it needs to be built for a hundred years. A hundred years ago we had trains running through downtown to get to Union Station, and now Union Station is a museum. I don't even know if it needs to be built to last for ten years, if we do ever get HSR something much bigger will probably have to go in it's place. But what we do need is something built now so people can use the stations in South Tacoma and Lakewood that we've all been paying for.

by NineInchNachos on 8/7/2009 @ 11:01pm
RR's Anti-Sounder Berm (Post and Beam)!

a post and beam will solve all our problems. don't listen to his devil tongued lies. lies lies lies!

by ixia on 8/8/2009 @ 12:07am
To accept building a train system to last for less than ten years is strip mall mentality we had enough of. We can not continue to treat everything as throw away, including land, neighborhoods and natural resources. Frugality is an old fashion value, Jay, not a trendy new one blown in with out of towners. And why the heck would it matter anyways where we grew up? Is there some sort of superior knowledge to be gained from never having left town?
Union Station is now a court house, btw.

by NineInchNachos on 8/8/2009 @ 8:20am
ad hominem

by jenyum on 8/8/2009 @ 8:59am
Some historic background on earthen berm Sound Transit projects in Tacoma:

by ixia on 8/8/2009 @ 9:29am
Nice find jenyum. back to the future...

by tacoma1 on 8/8/2009 @ 11:11am
Amtrak can't move to freighthouse until D-M is completed. Maybe one of you DIRT members that care so much about the Dome District might ask the Freighthouse Square vendors if they mind waiting a few more years for additional customers. While your at it, you might want to ask the Tacoma Dome Hotel owners, and the owners of the soon to be built Brewery District Hotel if they will mind the increased noise from the post and beam tressel. If they say they don't mind, be sure to get them to sign a waiver so ST and or the City of Tacoma doesn't get sued for noise violations.

D-M will apparently save Amtrak (according to Jenyum's figures, somewhere between 6 minutes and 4 hours). I think that is significant, and worth pursuing.

We don't even have the money for your post and beam scenario. It will take 20 years, billions of dollars more, and a completely new right of way to get true high speed rail here. I too dream of high speed rail, but we aren't going to get it by being obstructionists for medium speed rail.

by jenyum on 8/8/2009 @ 11:51am
It is really unfortunate that it has taken this long, but that is not the community's doing.

The at-grade solution was not decided upon until December of 2007, the first public design session didn't occur until September 11th of 2008, and the present designs are not even a year old. I don't know where Ben of the Seattle Transit Blog got his claim that he's known about the berm since 2005.

I agree, it's been a long time coming. But the delay cannot and should not be blamed on community groups which have only recently had a chance to evaluate the (ever changing) plans. I cannot find any evidence that community input, however negative, has had any effect at all on the project timeline.

I'm sure people are frustrated but that's not a reason to approach this without due diligence.

by NSHDscott on 8/8/2009 @ 1:21pm
tacoma1, there you go again pretending that the issue is about whether or not to buid the D-M extension, when it's really about HOW it's built. No one said it's going to take "a few more years" to switch to post-and-beam, and while I agree that the Amtrak time savings are "significant and worth pursuing" that has nothing to do with the debate.

I also don't see how the hotels are going to experience more noise as the train is on top of the berm/beam, not hidden behind it so it'll act like a sound wall.

And you don't think Sound Transit can spare the additional money, which has been variously quoted as being between $500K and $4M? Really?

by tacoma1 on 8/8/2009 @ 2:06pm
First off, never said the debate was whether to build or not, but definitely when and how. I say build now, will people are out of work, and costs are low, and so we can get our stations up and running asap.

The thing is that you guys can't seem to agree on the argument. Jenyum says she needs more time to do "due diligence". You seem to think that you can just substitute one design for another and the money will magically appear. If you can get "professional transit planners" to agree that the post and beam plan is just as good as the berm method (except for cost) great. Lets get that done. I'm ready and willing to pay more for the best solution. Unfortunately, from what I've read, the transit professionals all say that the post and beam plan is not the best plan. In addition to that, none of the post and beam proponents seem to want to chip in any funds themselves, but would be happy if someone else pays for it. I know that in Bellevue, that community has their overstarched knickers all twisted in a bunch and want to get a tunnel for their lightrail. I can guarantee that if they get one, it will be because semi informed amateurs made a bad decision, and also because they paid extra to get it. Who wants to ride in a tunnel for any length of time? I'm sure that the Bellevue tunnel advocates aren't planning on using it, but just don't want to have to look at people riding around in something other than lexus's (lexii?).

As to the sound levels, maybe you could research that, the information is readily available.

I'm not a transit planner, just a transit user. For that matter, I don't think that anyone associated with DIRT is a transit planner. If I'm wrong, please let me know (sorry, cartoonists don't qualify). I know that I would not ride on a train system that I designed. I feel much more confortable letting the pro's decide on how it should be designed.

by Jay Israel on 8/8/2009 @ 2:34pm
The due diligence has been done. The public comment period started way back in at least 2000 and is a matter of public record. You can go read all the documents at the library like I did yesterday. Granted that was for the at-grade alignment. This new elevated alignment was designed because the City of Tacoma directed them to build a bridge over Pacific. But my point is the same, this project is not new and isn't being shoved down people's throats. If the city wanted it to look a certain way or if Dome District developers wanted it to be built a certain way they should have made that clear from the very beginning when this project was first on the boards back at the turn of the millennium. If the City of Tacoma didn't provide enough design guidelines for this project than people should be mad at them, not Sound Transit.

by ixia on 8/8/2009 @ 2:54pm
The section over the gulch and under 705 has not had design work done yet, is what I understand. No time delay, not extra design costs extra at this point.
The section built on an earthen berm in 2004 (east of the Dome) started sliding the same year and had to be shored up with over a million dollars worth of pilings. And that after ST told their engineering firms to spend 1.5 M on evaluating the problem. Later they realized that the berm kept trucks from local businesses and it cost another 1.6 M to fix that. Oh, and btw, there was a derailment.
You sure we all should just shut up and go with what apparently was thought a good idea in 2000?

by jenyum on 8/8/2009 @ 3:01pm
Granted that was for the at-grade alignment

Exactly. A completely different design for this section of the project. The grade separation wasn't agreed to until 2007, and the public design review didn't start until September 11th of 2008. I suppose you could argue the public should acquire a time machine and bring the present berm design, critique, and alternate design suggestions to the public comment in 2000. The review which began in late 2008 allowed for two (2) design charettes, and by June of 2009 public comment was limited to cosmetic decisions regarding the Pacific Ave bridge.

I'm not "associated with DIRT" or claiming to be a transit planner, but the more I look into the process regarding this project, the more it stinks. I don't appreciate the effort to portray berm detractors as anti-transit obstructionists who came late to the party, when these are well-respected members of the community with a long history of caring about downtown urban design matters. Whether or not DIRT's design ultimately proves to be ideal, this is the public, commenting, as they are entitled to do.

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 8/8/2009 @ 3:09pm
How could it be that this post has 100+ comments, but it's not one of the top 5 clicks of the week on Feed Tacoma? Just wondering . . .

by jenyum on 8/8/2009 @ 3:11pm
Because it's a discussion forum topic and not a blog post.

by jenyum on 8/8/2009 @ 3:18pm
Does anyone have the AHBL Urban Design Assessment referred to repeatedly in meeting minutes? It's driving me crazy that I can't find it.

Edited to add:

Of course I have this one:

(I linked to it earlier) but David Boe seems to have referred to one conducted prior to november of 2007.

by Jay Israel on 8/8/2009 @ 8:38pm
"You sure we all should just shut up"

Did I ever say that? No. You don't have to get so mad just because someone has a different opinion than you or sees things differently. All I was saying is that anyone who has a vested interest in this project, like Dome District property owners, should have had this on their radar screen a long time ago. Whether it's elevated or not, it's not a new project.


I just looked at the design assessment you posted. It looks pretty nice to me. It seems that if the the berm area is landscaped like in the illustrations it will be nice and will provide some needed green space if that area ever becomes dense. Thanks for posting that.

by KevinFreitas on 8/8/2009 @ 10:29pm
I am...
- pro-Tacoma
- pro-Transit
- pro-Sounder extension to Lakewood
- someone that works two blocks south of where the tracks will run
- sad that sight-lines from our area toward downtown and the water will be marred by the berm
- even more sad to know the stunning views along that Point Defiance stretch of Amtrak route will be going away (best part of the train ride, imho)
- pro-at-grade crossing but, since that's not an option, would prefer to avoid a massive wall/berm in favor of at least something we can see a little daylight through

by KevinFreitas on 8/8/2009 @ 10:30pm
(@ TDI: I just tossed this up on the homepage using the "forum blotter feature")

by Jay Israel on 8/8/2009 @ 11:16pm

When all that new development springs up in Tacoma you won't be able to see the water anyways! Just kidding.

by KevinFreitas on 8/8/2009 @ 11:35pm
@Jay: Haha, right you most certainly are. I guess on the issue of permanence it seems easier to change something like posts and beams later than having to move a bunch of earth. Like say once transporter beams are a reality and we won't need this rail line anymore. ;)

It must be late. I should go to bed and not ponder transit nor the MySQL query needed to pull the most recent three posts for each comic of the new CLAW comics section of FeedTacoma...

by morgan on 8/9/2009 @ 8:00am

Trains are part of downtown Tacoma's history. Could Sound Transit be working covertly with the City to push Tacoma back in time?

by jenyum on 8/9/2009 @ 8:09am

I just looked at the design assessment you posted. It looks pretty nice to me. It seems that if the the berm area is landscaped like in the illustrations it will be nice and will provide some needed green space if that area ever becomes dense. Thanks for posting that.

It does look nice in the drawing but there are several things wrong with this picture:

1) Sound Transit has been clear that they will not be landscaping the berm. They'll lay down grass seed and that's it. If the city doesn't pick up the tab for landscaping it, it will just grow wild.

2) I believe I read that the drawings include buildings which do not exist right now and are not likely to if developers have to build next to that berm.

3) They present a "birds eye" view and don't show you the visual impact of the berm at street level. It just looks like a pleasant green ribbon through downtown.

If we have to live with the berm, I would hope that someone will stand up and demand that landscaping be a part of the project. Without landscaping it's just going to become a blight, and would be more likely to attract garbage.

by ixia on 8/9/2009 @ 8:47am
"...should have had this on their radar screen a long time ago. Whether it's elevated or not, it's not a new project. "
How could we have an opinion or input if the current berm option was not designed until 2008? The berms put in 2004 failed. If we are repeating the same thing, should we count on a different out come?

by NineInchNachos on 8/9/2009 @ 9:02am
Another thing the bermers don't mention is the wealth of ancient Indian artifacts we'd be piling ASARCO smelter tailings on top of.

Its a fact that train vibrations destroy fossils.

I don't want these ancient records to be lost forever.

I am for post and beam construction.

This would allow archaeologists a valuable window into our past.

by Jay Israel on 8/9/2009 @ 11:59am

1) Should get the city to commit to landscaping and maintaining it, I'm sure they could find the budget for it and they already have a parks department. Twenty years from now people will be screaming for more green space downtown.

2) Nobody has explained how the berm precludes development. Shoring up the berm would be no different than building on a hillside lot, and there are plenty of examples of hillside buildings in Tacoma. ST said that the same amount of shoring work would be required to keep the post-and-beam from tipping if the lot next to it is excavated. If that land becomes valuable the extra expense of building there would be negligible. It's amazing what developers will do to get a piece of the pie and I'm not sure public money should be spent to make it easier for them.

I'm not sure who to listen to in this situation, I don't trust developers and architects anymore than I trust politicians. They all seem to look out for self-interests first, the public second. What I do know is that there are a lot of people outside of the dome district that'll benefit from having this done.


It's my understanding that the berm failed because the contractor screwed up, and I'm sure nobody learned from that.

by Nick on 8/9/2009 @ 9:18pm
"What I do know is that there are a lot of people outside of the dome district that'll benefit from having this done."

I keep getting the sense that the two sides to this argument are arguing about two completely different things. From what I have gathered, there is no argument or debate about whether or not this Sounder extension should be built.

We all want this. It's not a matter of whether or not to build it. The debate is about execution of this expansion.

by fredo on 8/10/2009 @ 8:27am
RE: the maintenance of a landscaped berm, Jay wrote " ...I'm sure they (the city of Tacoma) could find the budget for it... "

I'm not so sure. The city has a poor track record for maintaining landscaped "improvements". In fact it's one of the first things the city cuts when the council has a new pet project or when the
municipal unions decide they need their contracts larded up.

by NSHDscott on 8/10/2009 @ 10:56am
I'm not so sure either. I'd want to see a long-term agreement in place, with funding. I don't see why this can't be a concession made by Sound Transit to get their berm over community opposition. Or are they really that completely unwilling to bend? Grass is a horrible idea, by the way. Who wants to mow a hill? Not to mention lawn needs water, and people to enjoy laying around on it. Since we aren't going to see that happen, plant a nice thicket of drought-resistant bushes and small trees instead. Plant it thick and you won't need a fence.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/10/2009 @ 5:05pm
no amount of "landscaping" will make a 8' tall fence with barbed wire on it look good.
Reminds me too much of the ICE detention center on St Paul Ave...

by fredo on 8/10/2009 @ 6:59pm
I think we can distinguish the barbed wire on the ICE detention facility from the possible barbed wire on the ST berm. Nobody sees the detention center and nobody objects to using barbed wire in the operation of it. OTOH everybody would see a barbed wire enclosed berm right through the center of town and most people would probably object.

by morgan on 8/11/2009 @ 6:25am
Ack! The Feed has been hacked!

by fredo on 8/11/2009 @ 6:26am
Arkserv@ you may possess a "world class" brain but you don't know squat about locating an appropriate discussion thread.

by KevinFreitas on 8/11/2009 @ 6:50am
Re: hacked!

Taken care of. See ICE detention facility...

by Mark Monlux on 8/11/2009 @ 8:19am
All that is needed to complete this retro plan of the future is a nice quaint shanty town.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/11/2009 @ 8:30am
"Nobody sees the detention center and nobody objects to using barbed wire in the operation of it."

I used to work at the door factory next to the detention center. I saw that thing daily for 3-1/2 years. I saw the ambulances there when they had a mass-food poisoning. I saw the snipers on the roof during the 9/11 protests 2 years ago. I've seen the buses with steel bars on the windows. I've seen the families outside the fence holding vigil.
No good can come from that place.

But I'm not trying to hijack this thread, so please don't try and get me into a conversation about how the Mexicans there are a threat to national security... that's for another time in another thread.
My point is, that when I see an 8'+ chain link fence I don't think "Oh how nice. My train is being protected from hobos". I think about the families torn apart by that goddamn place. I hate chain link fences because of the association.
I won't be riding any rails that require a fence like that.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2009 @ 8:39am
Terrorists will put pennies on the train tracks and sell them to tourists to raise money for Hezbollah.

We need that berm fence!

by fredo on 8/11/2009 @ 8:58am
OK, back to the barbed wire.

Would the barbed wire be a component of the post and beam alternative or is it only a component of the berm alternative? What portion of the extention would be barb wired? Finally what is the purpose of the barbed wire? To keep hobos off the rails, to appease the public insurance companies, or to keep some politicians friend's barbed wire manufacturing plant in business?

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/11/2009 @ 9:39am
"Finally what is the purpose of the barbed wire?"

All of the above? Don't forget a little bit of "Security Theater" in there too.

by tacoma1 on 8/11/2009 @ 9:49am
I can't find any reference to barbed wire or chain link fence in any of the ST plans. I could have missed it. Perhaps someone could provide a link or supporting document. Though I am a little confused on what topic we are discussing at the moment.

by ixia on 8/11/2009 @ 12:02pm
That's right. ST plans show landscaping and no fence. ST's CEO says they will hydro seed and fence the berm.
@ fedo:"Nobody sees the detention center and nobody objects to using barbed wire in the operation of it."
Can you define nobody?

by NSHDscott on 8/11/2009 @ 12:07pm
How about planting a thicket of spiky plants? And no, I'm not talking about blackberry!

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2009 @ 12:12pm
i hate barb wire

by fredo on 8/11/2009 @ 12:24pm
Ixia@ When I used the word nobody I was writing in a rather hyperbolic fashion. What I meant to say was "practically nobody except Ixia and Thorax". Good catch. This is off topic, but what Tacoma needs is an expansion of the ICE detention center to provide more employment opportunities.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/11/2009 @ 12:27pm
I say let Seattle or Bellevue poach that business from us. Hell, I say we encourage them to leave.

Imagine how scenic it would be to have the ICE across the street from Safeco Field....

by tacoma1 on 8/11/2009 @ 12:46pm
How 'bout telling those Seattle loving Tacoma hating ST board members to give us some real landscaping and to keep their friggin grass, and to include some irrigation so the plants don't die.

Then tell the City of Tacoma to provide the water for free, and make the place a real garden show place! Maybe the Dome District merchants can form a Garden Club, or they can all chip in for a fund for the garden maintenance. If not, maybe Metro Parks can take the garden over. Make the place an actual garden destination, a place to go to and visit. Make the pedestrian walkways into a place people would like to walk to, by, through............ You gotta admit that this area looks a little neglected at the moment.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/11/2009 @ 1:08pm
If by "little neglected" you mean ignored for years, then yes.

by NSHDscott on 8/11/2009 @ 2:00pm
tacoma1's proposition is worth considering. First time I feel that way, lol! I think if the berm was _nicely_ landscaped, with interesting plants and a nice design and not grass or some generic strip of lame-o bushes, and if it had attractive bridge-like openings for Pacific, A and C streets to go under it, that might be an acceptable compromise. I'm still in favor of the post-and-beam but at some point you need to meet in the middle. Whether Sound Transit will hold to that ideal has yet to be seen — so far I'm doubting it.

The whole hydroseeded grass idea is just bad on so many levels. Grass needs to be mowed and I imagine this is a rather steep hill. Grass needs to be watered, and uses up a lot of water, or else it gets ugly in a hurry. It needs to be fertilized every now and then, and weeds need to be removed, probably with poisons (awfully close to a waterway). And grass needs to be enjoyed, but I don't envision many people (the kind of people the city would want, at least) hanging out by the train tracks.

Look to native and/or drought-resistant plants and you might not need to water them at all, or spend much money caring for them (once you invest in their installation). Plant them thick and you don't need a fence, or so they will hide a fence. Throw a park bench along the sidewalk on both sides every now and then and you've got yourself a feature that, while still not the best thing for the neighborhood, might not be all that bad either.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2009 @ 2:43pm
Reasons Why Post and Beam is a Better Solution for the Sounder rail tracks in Tacoma and through the Dome District.


1. The "B" Street Ravine, is identified in Tacoma's Open Space Habitat and Recreation Plan as a Habitat Corridor. This Habitat Corridor will be lost in the Dome District, if filled (bermed).

2. Dirt Berms weigh a lot and could greatly affect the flow of ground water in the aquafilter causing unexpected flooding.

3. The "B" Street Ravine is part of a large urban watershed and water flows underground and downhill through it and eventually into Puget Sound.

4. The "B" Street Ravine has been identified as a Seismic (Earthquake) Hazard Area. It’s considered a Liquefaction area when seismic waves generated by a large earthquake pass through unconsolidated sediments near the ground surface. When a structure is built, the weight of the structure and its contents are transferred through the foundation into underlying soils.

5. Sound Transit has stated, the berm will be planted with grass. Look at any of Tacoma's existing berms and you'll see they are not maintained, they are overgrown and full of invasive plants. No one is identified to maintain these berms.

6. The "B" Street Ravine is important because it connects to the much larger open space to the South of the Dome District the Foss Waterway.

7. The Dome District Development Plan identifies the "B" Street Ravine as a green space. If the ravine is not bermed there will be a better chance of bridging East 25th Street in the future to complete the pathway to the Foss.

8. As cities grow and expand Green Belts and Open Space are disappearing. We need to protect the ones we still in order to keep our cities livable and have available for future needs.


9. Berm width makes any available lots too small to build on and since the tracks are not self-supporting no developer will build near the tracks with the chance of subsidence.

10. The berms take too much land off the tax rolls, and it's land that someday could produce tax revenue for the city if it were developed.

11. 87 parking spaces will be lost if the track is bermed. Will have to build additional parking to replace the spaces lost, and the lots could easily end up on land better used for housing or business sites.

12. The cost of the Post and Beam is very similar to the berm and there are more unforeseen costs (unknown utilities, unknown soil conditions...) in berming. Current estimate is ˝ to 1 million more for Post and Beam construction.


13. The Dome District should be the Transit Oriented District for Tacoma. It is poised for density, helping to relieve the pressure on Tacoma's older single-family Neighborhoods. Post and Beam would allow development to occur along the tracks, in a sense encapsulating them with buildings of offices, entertainment, parking and housing.

14. Berms separate and divide communities from one another.

15. Berms are for rural areas, not urban areas. For successful pedestrian use of street level businesses, retail and entertainment, it must be continuous. Even a half block break can stop the success of street level retail, as they have found on Pacific Ave. at the huge parking garages.

16. A large berm in the middle of the Dome District will create a potential danger zone by reducing visibility through the area. The berm will create a large blind spot and make it difficult to see up the 705 corridor and green belt. As of the Sound Transit’s currently available drawings, there is now a 300 foot long wall, starting in the ravine, at 20' high to 10' high west at East "A" Street creating the worst CPTED conditions right in the middle of a promising mixed-use district.

17. The downtown renaissance is happening and it will continue south on Pacific Ave. and now that the Dome District is part of the Downtown, that development should turn and continue to the transit hub in the District. Berming would stall this out at the intersection of East 25th St and Pacific. Earthen embankments are not conducive to business and retail renaissance.

18. The "B" Street ravine could someday be a trail way connecting the area to city parks, open spaces, and the Foss Waterway.


19) Recent estimates show that the cost is less than 1 million, which is nothing considering the size of the project.

20) Time should not be a factor, because designing a Post and Beam elevated structure is will not take much time and it's a fairly simple structure.

Do It Right Tacoma, does not want to slow the project down and we don't want it to cost millions more, we just want it done correctly.

by Nick on 8/11/2009 @ 3:37pm
(pointing upwards) what he said!

by tacoma1 on 8/11/2009 @ 4:07pm
Did you do any fact checking on those talking points? Just wondering. I think I see some pretty fuzzy math and science there.............btw, the City of Tacoma doesn't collect many taxes on the kind of commerce that currently occurs at 25th and Pacific.

It's not like your trying to save Stanley Seaforts here. This part of Tacoma is: (and I must apologize in advance, but I'm a local and I'm insulting myself here too) a car centric, pedestrian unfriendly, drug zone. There is nothing we can do to it that will hurt it. Virtually anything, and I mean anything will be an improvement.

Also, does anyone recognize my new photo, Ain't it beautiful?

by NSHDscott on 8/11/2009 @ 4:45pm
Um, tacoma1, your new photo is the same as your old photo, far as I can tell. It's taken at Lakewold, isn't it? Quite lovely.

I have a hard time seeing how a weedy mound of dirt with noisy trains on top is going to improve this part of Tacoma. It might improve South Tacoma and Lakewood by virtue of TOD, but a post-and-beam construction will do just the same. Noisy trains we'll have to live with, but weedy dirt mound is no improvement in my books.

You've conveyed your skeptism of anti-berm statements before. I'm all for fact-checking and scientific reviews and all that, but you can't just dismiss those arguments because someone hasn't spent all the time and money to prove them right. And it seems like you're expecting us blog readers and DIRT organizers to fork over that money? The worse crime is to assume they are all wrong, or ignore them altogether, which seems to be the standpoint of both you and Sound Transit.

Last, while I don't totally disagree with your description of this part of Tacoma (although I've never seen the drug stats, have you?), you're describing its current state and not its potential. We don't know if it will ever reach its potential as a really nice community, at least in our lifetimes, but I'd rather not take actions that could thwart the reaching of said potential. It certainly isn't unheard-of that a neighborhood situated between a nicely developed part of downtown (museums, courthouse, UWT, fine dining) and a transportation hub (train, bus, light rail) slash entertainment district (Tacoma Dome, LeMay Museum), that still has developable, low-cost (for now) land, couldn't be transformed into a really nice neighborhood in time. Ever see Portland's Pearl District 20 years ago? Portland had areas worse than the Dome District is now that are now very valuable both culturally and financially for the city.

by tacoma1 on 8/11/2009 @ 4:55pm
Weird, but the photo I see is at 25th and pacific....but yes the photo that you are seeing is at Lakewold.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2009 @ 4:56pm
we've got to stop the cycle of urban land abuse. Tacoma1 is suffering from battered wife syndrome. clear your cache to see his neu Icon! :)

by NSHDscott on 8/11/2009 @ 10:27pm
You're right, damn cache. Hey, that new photo sure wasn't taken at Lakewold.

by KevinFreitas on 8/12/2009 @ 12:19pm
I really appreciate what NSHDscott said above regarding landscaping the berm. Spend money doing *that* right and I'll put my vote behind the berm. But only if they invest in native plants and shrubs that are well situated to this climate and low maintenance and avoid just seeding with grass. Really like the bench idea too.

Sound Transit? Board members? Representitives? Are you listening? Compromise!

by ixia on 8/12/2009 @ 1:20pm
Will the landscaping prevent this?
(from earlier post):The section built on an earthen berm in 2004 (east of the Dome) started sliding the same year and had to be shored up with over a million dollars worth of pilings. And that after ST told their engineering firms to spend 1.5 M on evaluating the problem. Later they realized that the berm kept trucks from local businesses and it cost another 1.6 M to fix that. Oh, and btw, there was a derailment.

by Nick on 8/12/2009 @ 1:43pm
Was picking the fiance up from the dome station yesterday and snapped some pics of the old-style truss that the sounder currently uses just north of freighthouse square.

The design is of course dated, but I thought it might help visualize the benefits of post and beam (take note of the footprint size, the proximity to buildings, and the ease with which streets can pass beneath):

by NineInchNachos on 8/12/2009 @ 2:25pm
i am a fan of wood truss. Wood is one of the greenest building materials!

by tacoma1 on 8/12/2009 @ 2:36pm
For some reason, I was thinking that a nice birm filled with green growing plants that are constantly converting CO2 into clean breathable oxygen would be nice.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/12/2009 @ 3:30pm
For some reason we keep thinking we have a choice in this matter.
Sources I have close to the issue tell me ST has Olympia on it's side about building this berm.

They aren't listening nor do they intend to.

by Nick on 8/12/2009 @ 3:52pm
... which is why I think we should learn from this and establish design guidlines for future projects. Think of Proctor enforcing standards on the Safeway rennovation, or the design approval process for the Holiday Inn being built in the brewery district.

What if Tacoma established similar guidelines city-wide for projects like this? Sure ST could then request a variance, but it would be difficult for our leaders to go against provisions established by voters. Just some food for thought....

by NineInchNachos on 8/12/2009 @ 4:32pm
we have a choice. we can draw protest cartoons and be shot down in a blaze of righteous glory.

We can rub our indignation in the noses of politicians who should know better.

by morgan on 8/12/2009 @ 9:40pm
NineInchNachos: nice linkage from the TNT!

by NineInchNachos on 8/12/2009 @ 9:48pm
Oh no! They're crediting me with that cartoon! That is actually the work of the mighty Jinxmedic!

by morgan on 8/12/2009 @ 10:42pm
DOH! I guess if there's a political cartoon in Tacoma - and it doesn't have talking worms in it - it must be RR's!

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/13/2009 @ 1:00am
To be fair, at least the City has been pretty successful in getting ST to abandon most of the cement walls and "sound barriers" they were going to install.

by The Jinxmedic on 8/13/2009 @ 10:17am
Okay- who else does talking worms??

(Nice catch, RR.)

by NineInchNachos on 8/17/2009 @ 12:55pm
DIRT ALERT: New Berm Erotica posted to Do It Right Tacoma Blog

by panachronic on 8/17/2009 @ 3:52pm
i am a fan of wood truss. Wood is one of the greenest building materials!

But when it's soaked in creosote... not so much.

by NineInchNachos on 8/17/2009 @ 8:41pm
yeah creosote... forgot about that stuff. yiesh

by NineInchNachos on 8/18/2009 @ 8:40pm
"Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy abruptly withdrew her support for Tacoma mayoral Candidate Jim Merritt this week.

While McCarthy wouldn’t detail her reasoning to The News Tribune, Merritt’s campaign said it’s because he wouldn’t issue an apology for publicly challenging the design of Sound Transit’s commuter rail extension."

go Jim!

by NineInchNachos on 8/18/2009 @ 8:49pm
On Friday, McCarthy senior aide Keri Rooney called Bush, telling her that Merritt’s campaign “needed to apologize because Pat was seriously considering pulling her endorsement,” Bush said.

“Pat didn’t think Jim was acting like a loyal follower,” Bush said Rooney told her.

by fredo on 8/18/2009 @ 9:29pm
Nachos you may like wooden trusses, but to be honest they leave a lot of splinters in your crotch.

by NineInchNachos on 8/18/2009 @ 9:32pm
do you speak from your experience riding the rails as a hobo mr. fredo? Watch out for those yard bulls!

by NineInchNachos on 8/18/2009 @ 10:03pm
so some clod-hopper complained and the trib deleted my cartoon from the meritt-berm story comments. "We're a family newspaper" fooey!

by tacoma1 on 8/18/2009 @ 10:20pm
Most people with good taste would find that cartoon offensive. I certainly do. I am not a prude, but it truly is a rude drawing. I wasn't the one who complained, but really? Posting that type of cartoon in the local paper was poor judgement in my opinion.

by NineInchNachos on 8/18/2009 @ 10:48pm
you know what's rude? how about burying the dome district under a berm.

good day sir.

by KevinFreitas on 8/18/2009 @ 11:13pm
Who's up for a good ol' fashioned Sound Transit board meeting?

I'm in if anyone else is. Let's mob 'em Mary's opening day style. Show them what Tacoma thinks since they plan to meet in our formal rail hub of Union Station. Any takers?

And big ups to Jim for asking the tough questions of ST and standing up tall for Tacoma.

by NineInchNachos on 8/18/2009 @ 11:27pm
Hey If I go it might cost me my Pat McCarthy endorsement. Count me out.

by jenyum on 8/19/2009 @ 12:00am
1:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday in Seattle during the last week of summer break. Ugh.

Maybe if I can get a sitter.

by panachronic on 8/19/2009 @ 1:03am
Look on the bright side... ST's 590 bus passes right by there.

by fredo on 8/19/2009 @ 6:24am
The cartoon was a little off-color. But it was a provocative response to Tacoma's ineffective ST representation and is generating a lot of postings and discussion. Keep up the good work RR.

by KevinFreitas on 8/19/2009 @ 7:13am
@jen: Oh that Union Station. Damnit! That's what happens to my reading comprehension when I browse the web just before going to sleep. :S

1:30 in the afternoon on a weekday is a mighty good way to keep the riffraff out of meetings, isn't it? I suppose we could mount an email write-in campaign. I'll see what I can draft and make a spiffy link that will pre-populate the to, subject, and body of the email. Stay tuned...

by tacoma1 on 8/19/2009 @ 8:17am
I watch their board meetings online whenever I can. ST always streams the meetings. For anyone that actually wants to keep informed, heres the link:

FYI, take some nodoze, or have plenty of coffee available.

by Nick on 8/19/2009 @ 12:50pm
Sign me on for that email campaign. How about a conference call to all the board members campaign? We could schedule it right before the meeting!</tongue-firmly-in-cheek>

by NineInchNachos on 8/19/2009 @ 4:05pm
anti-bermers are really giving Pat Mccarthyism a hard time..

even lynn Di Nino jumped on the band wagon of hate.

by Erik on 8/19/2009 @ 4:56pm
This thread has already taken 178 comments, not sure when Feed Tacoma will reach the technological breaking point. All over a berm Tacomic.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/19/2009 @ 7:35pm
Why do these meetings always happen on days I work?
Seriously, every single meeting even remotely berm-related in the recent months has been on days I work.


by Erik on 8/20/2009 @ 12:30am
The Tribune's Callagan weighs on on the battle of the berm:

After a seven-year absence, “The Tacoma Way” is making a comeback.

The Tacoma Way is our own variation of the Seattle Way. That was the method that emphasized task forces and town halls and consensus building even if no consensus had a chance of emerging.

The Tacoma Way was the opposite. Insiders – both in government and business – would decide what was best for everyone and then conduct a public process that was more process than public. Opponents, usually those who weren’t at the table, were marginalized as obstructionists to progress.

None of this hurts Merritt politically because it appears this will be a pretty good election to be the outsider. But it is disturbing that there is an attempt – or even a desire – to restore the Tacoma Way of doing government.

by morgan on 8/20/2009 @ 6:26am
Good to see the reasoned voice of Callaghan weigh in - especially when the "official" voice of the TNT is more like "just build the stupid thing already." Is that how great cities are built? Mark my words, this Sound Transit project is one of the biggest blunders the history of the City of Tacoma - and our leaders are doing nothing to prevent it.

by Nick on 8/20/2009 @ 8:20am
Hmmm.... so where do I get one of those Merritt for mayor lawn signs?

by NineInchNachos on 8/20/2009 @ 8:53am
I want one of those Merritt signs too!

by NineInchNachos on 8/20/2009 @ 8:53am
great TNT article! Jesus christ!

by Nick on 8/20/2009 @ 9:45am
Found it!

I wonder how many of these it would take to build a wall big enough to block off the building path of the berm?

by Nick on 8/20/2009 @ 9:45am
... or better yet, how many would it take to build a post-and-beam structure for tracks to be laid onto?

by tacoma1 on 8/20/2009 @ 9:55am
First off, I have to say that anyone that voted for Pat McCarthy to be our Pierce County Exec........ what the hell were you thinking?

But then, I hate to be the voice of reason here but:
Lewis Lamb's TNT article 2 days ago, which Callaghan seems to be basing his column on proves that:

Jim Merritt said that Pat McCarthy said something that Pat McCarthy says she didn't say.

I think somepeople are still in highschool. Just saying...................

by Nick on 8/20/2009 @ 4:09pm
idk, my bff pat?

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/20/2009 @ 7:08pm
The News Tribune has writers still?