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Sound Transit's board yesterday identified an alignment for the planned expansion of the Tacoma Link light-rail system. The decision advances the project to the environmental phase for further study.The identified alignment would continue north from the existing Theater District Station along Stadium Way to the intersection of North First Street and Division Avenue, then from the intersection of North 1st Street and Division Avenue to Martin Luther King Way and South 19th Street, Sound Transit officials said in a press release. The choice would allow an expanded Tacoma Link to operate in both directions on Martin Luther King Way."Light rail is now an integral part of Tacoma's transportation network, and the Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods are ideal locations for light-rail expansion," said Sound Transit Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Extending Tacoma Link will better connect these neighborhoods and the business district."The route selection follows an extensive alternatives analysis and public outreach process that began in August 2012. During that early scoping phase, public comments were sought on 24 corridor options in eleven distinct corridors. In May 2013, the board chose the North Downtown Central Corridor as the preferred corridor for the potential Tacoma Link expansion. Since then, the agency has worked with city leaders, business owners and residents to define and evaluate alignment options within the selected corridor.During the environmental review, the alignment will undergo conceptual engineering. Station locations also will be identified, and site options for an expanded maintenance facility near the existing facility at East 25th and G streets will be studied. The board is scheduled to select the final alignment after the environmental review. Construction of the project is contingent on securing local and federal funding, Sound Transit officials said.Also yesterday, the board awarded a $29.9 million contract to a Harbor Pacific/Graham joint venture to design and construct a 1,050-stall parking garage and plaza next to the future Angle Lake light-rail station. The contract includes a connecting plaza, a drop-off area for light rail riders, a retail space with dedicated parking, and 35,000 square feet to be held for future transit-oriented development.
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