Pierce Transit rapid bus proposal raises private property concerns

    Pierce Transit rapid bus proposal raises private property concerns (KOMO photo)

    Pierce Transit is designing a faster bus line along its busiest route but some neighbors worry it will take away street parking and private property.

    The line would run along Pacific Avenue from downtown Tacoma into Spanaway and could shave travel time by one-third. The proposed system, called Bus Rapid Transit, won't take away any lanes for cars but it could cut into the sidewalks and maybe even people's yards and storefronts.

    That part of the plan wasn’t too popular during a public hearing Monday night, although agency officials said impacts would be minimal.

    “There's people that park on Pacific Avenue that don't have parking in the alley or don't have parking behind their homes,” said Nicholas Bigelow, a homeowner along the proposed bus line.

    Nate Robinson also owns a home on Pacific Avenue, but came to the hearing to raise questions about how the bus service would impact the many businesses in the area.

    “Those people are going to have no option to park, so they are going to be doing a lot of economic damage,” both to property values and commerce, Robinson said.

    Pierce Transit is still deciding whether to run dedicated bus lanes curbside - the current recommendation - or run buses down the center median, which some said is safer.

    “We're very concerned that riders and pedestrians alike are able to get across Pacific Avenue safely,” said Cody Bakken, a public transit advocate.

    Bus Rapid Transit is expected to cost $150 million to build, although Pierce Transit is still short about $60 million. The agency said buses will run about every 10 minutes, and travel times will be helped by prioritizing traffic signals for buses at intersections and by collecting fares ahead of boarding. Bus stops would also be converted to bus stations to get people on and off more quickly.

    Pierce Transit officials are also committed to working with property owners to minimize the loss of private land.

    “With the recommended option that the bus travel on the side of the road rather than in the middle, it would be just about a half an acre, maybe a little more than that over the course of the 14.4 miles and those would be in slivers of property that we would purchase, not take,” said Rebecca Japhet, a Pierce Transit spokesperson.

    Japhet provided a breakdown showing that for 81 percent of properties, the bus line would require less than 2 percent of the land. The agency said it's too early to say how much street parking might be lost.

    Pierce Transit commissioners could vote on this system at their next meeting on April 8.

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