Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Post & Beam is a Better Option
for Sound Transit's Heavy Rail

Sound Transit plans to build a large earth berm through the Dome District of Tacoma for their new heavy rail Sounder tracks. Here's some reasons why this is a bad idea and why using Post and Beam elevated construction is a better solution.


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.

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.

6. The "B" Street Ravine is important because it connects to a much larger open space to the South and connects to 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 rebridging 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 have available.


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. 84 parking spaces will be lost if the track is bermed. Will have to build parking to replace the current parking spaces on land that is much more valuable as housing/office sites.

12. We understand that the cost of the Post and Beam is very similar to the berm and there are more unforseen costs (unknown utilities, unknown soil conditions...) in berming.


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 30% drawings of Sound Transit's, there is now a 300 foot long wall, starting in the ravine, at 20' high to 10' high west at E"A"St. creating the worst CPTED conditions right in the middle of a promising mixed-use district.

17. Everyone wants the downtown renaissance to 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 interesection of E.25th St. Embankments are not part of a business/retail renaissance.

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

In January, our City Council passed Resolution No. 37726, that among other things stated "The post and beam construction may not be uniformly appropriate, but should be used where it makes sense with City of Tacoma and Sound Transit staff working together.

Building a berm through a Habitat Corridor and across Pacific Ave. does not make sense for the future of our City or our region. Post and Beam is a much better option.

These are a just a few of the reasons berms is not good. Some are more important than others and there are plenty of other reasons too. If you have any thoughts or ideas please add them in the comment section of this article.


Please attend an important meeting on Monday, July 27th, 9:00 a.m., at the Freighthouse Square, main lobby where Sounder tickets are sold. Address is 2501 East D Street, Tacoma 98421

Several members of the Sound Transit Board will be there, also the Mayor of Tacoma and members of the City Council, as well as other key players in this project and concerned citizens.

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