Environmental Review

What is scoping?

Scoping provides an opportunity to learn about and comment on the Tacoma Dome Link Extension project at the beginning of the environmental review process. During this time, Sound Transit and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are seeking input from the public, agencies and tribes. Scoping is occurring in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). FTA is the lead agency under NEPA, and Sound Transit is the lead agency under SEPA.

Based on feedback gathered through the alternatives development process and the scoping comment period, the Sound Transit Board will identify a preferred alternative and other alternatives to study in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The alternatives that Sound Transit will study in the Draft EIS will undergo much more detailed analysis, with future opportunities for public comment. The EIS process will take about three years to complete.

Learn more about the project’s draft Purpose and Need and the environmental topics to be studied in the EIS below. Then, share what you think by filling out the survey on this page. Read the scoping information report (PDF 1.3 MB) for more details.

Draft Purpose and Need Statement

The purpose of the Tacoma Dome Link Extension is to expand the regional Link light rail system from the Federal Way Transit Center to the Tacoma Dome Station area in order to:

  • Provide high quality rapid, reliable, and efficient light rail transit service to communities in the project corridor, as defined through the local planning process and reflected in the ST3 Plan (Sound Transit 2016).
  • Improve regional mobility by increasing connectivity and capacity in the TDLE corridor from the Federal Way Transit Center to the Tacoma Dome Station area to meet projected transit demand.
  • Connect communities of Federal Way, Milton, Fife, Tacoma, and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to regional centers and destinations on the regional high-capacity transit (HCT) system as described in adopted regional and local land use, transportation, and economic development plans and Sound Transit’s Regional Transit Long-Range Plan (Sound Transit 2014a).
  • Implement a system that is technically and financially feasible to build, operate, and maintain.
  • Expand mobility for the corridor and region’s residents, which include transit dependent, low-income, and minority populations.
  • Encourage equitable and sustainable urban growth in station areas through support of transit oriented development and multimodal integration in a manner that is consistent with local land use plans and policies, including Sound Transit’s Transit Oriented Development and Sustainability policies.
  • Encourage convenient and safe nonmotorized access to stations such as bicycle and pedestrian connections consistent with Sound Transit’s System Access Policy.
  • Preserve and promote a healthy environment and economy by minimizing adverse impacts on the natural, built, and social environments.

The project is needed because:

  • Chronic roadway congestion on Interstate 5 (I-5) and State Route 99 (SR 99)—two primary highways connecting communities along the corridor—delays today's travelers, including those using transit, and degrades the reliability of bus service traversing the corridor, particularly during commute periods.
  • These chronic, degraded conditions are expected to continue and worsen as the region's population and employment grows.
  • Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), the regional metropolitan planning organization, and local plans call for HCT in the corridor consistent with VISION 2040 (PSRC 2009) and Sound Transit’s Regional Transit Long-Range Plan (Sound Transit 2014a).
  • South King and Pierce counties citizens and communities, including transit-dependent residents and low-income or minority populations, need long-term regional mobility and multimodal connectivity as called for in the Washington State Growth Management Act.
  • Regional and local plans call for increased residential and/or employment density at and around HCT stations, and increased options for multimodal access.
  • Environmental and sustainability goals of the state and region, as established in Washington state law and embodied in PSRC’s VISION 2040 and 2018 Regional Transportation Plan, include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing vehicle miles traveled.

What is included in a Draft EIS?

The project will follow federal and state regulations and guidance to identify and address the potential for significant environmental impacts caused by the construction or operation of the project. The following environmental topics are anticipated to be studied in the EIS:

  • Transportation
    • Regional travel
    • Transit
    • Local travel—traffic, access and circulation, safety, bicycling, walking and parking
    • Freight movement
  • Land use
  • Economics
  • Acquisitions and displacements
  • Historic, cultural, and archaeological resources—including Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and tribal resources and ownership
  • Ecosystems
  • Water resources—including floodplains and crossing the Puyallup River
  • Parks and recreation
  • Noise and vibration
  • Community impacts
  • Public services and utilities—including the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)
  • Visual resources
  • Geology and soils
  • Hazardous materials
  • Air qualityincluding greenhouse gas emissions
  • Energy
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Construction impacts
  • Cumulative effectsincluding climate change and environmental sustainability, as well as the effects of other projects such as the OMF South
  • Environmental justice
  • Section 4(f)—a U.S. Department of Transportation regulation protecting parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or historic resources