Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Twenty Reasons Post and Beam
Is a Better Solution for Tacoma Tracks

Reasons Why Post and Beam is a Better Solution for the Sounder rail tracks in Tacoma and through the Dome District.


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 ½ to 1 million more for Post and Beam construction.


5. 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.

6. Berms separate and divide communities from one another.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

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


11. 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).

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

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

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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.


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.


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 the Dome District does not make sense for Tacoma. Post and Beam is a much better option.

Citizens of Tacoma are don't want to see a berm through the area, so let's get it done correctly and for the good of Tacoma and our future.


  1. I'm not an expert, so I don't know about the wildlife stuff, but flow of groundwater, where do you come up with that. More likely sticking columns into the aquifer would contaminate it than a berm would "crush" it.

  2. The website www.stormwaterauthority.org has a lot of information about Stormwater and is a good source of information. Weight of dirt piled on top of other dirt does compact it, and this could affect the ground water flow. It's not the most important point to consider just one of many reason why Post and Beam is better is a better solution. The whole Environmental Section has been lowered on the page to bring attention to other reasons.