Pierce County riders feel slighted by light rail extension setback

Another Sound Transit project has been delayed, much to the disappointment of Pierce County transit riders.

The light rail extension to the Tacoma Dome Station has been pushed back an additional three years. Now it won’t be finished until 2035, due to soil and resource issues in Federal Way and floodplain concerns in Fife.

Maureen Parker, a light rail rider since 2006, expressed her frustration with the lack of progress in Tacoma. The light rail line currently operating there is less than a mile-and-a-half long.

“None of it adds up, and it’s been years, I mean years, since they’ve not done anything to improve it or make it go anyplace else but eight minutes up the road,” Parker said.

Pierce County Councilmember Ryan Mello agrees with Parker and wants his county to be better connected to King County.

“I think Sound Transit needs to do better to better meet budgets and timelines, and Sound Transit needs to do right by the South Sound,” Mello said.

However, he recognizes the challenges Sound Transit is facing and hopes the agency will work to solve service gaps in the meantime. According to Mello, roughly a quarter of Pierce County workers travel outside the county for work. He said thousands of those commuters clog Interstate 5 daily, and improving the connectivity between north and south would help cut back on that congestion.

“A lot of frustration comes in about the inequities of investment from the South Sound when we’ve been paying into the system for a long time,” Mello said.