Tacoma's Hilltop Link extension now open for Pierce County commuters

Good news for Pierce County commuters, the Hilltop Link expansion in Tacoma is now open.

After several years of works and millions of dollars later, you can now take the train from St. Joseph's all the way to Old City Hall station with five stops in between, including the Tacoma Dome and Stadium District.

Like many traffic projects, this was long-awaited. The Hilltop extension in Tacoma is shy of 2.5 miles, which is more than double the length of the T-line, and adds seven more stops.

Saturday morning, legislators and city leaders came together to celebrate the big day and seal it with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony with a massive pair of scissors.

Sound Transit expects daily-rider numbers to reach 2,000 to 4,000 daily by 2026.

As part of the expansion, there are five new light rail vehicles. They are 66 feet long and carry more than 100 passengers each.


UW study finds meth, fentanyl in air and on surfaces of public transit

The University of Washington ran a study to see if drug smoke from fentanyl and methamphetamine is affecting transit operators and passengers.

Community leaders said the Hilltop Link will now make the area more convenient and accessible for people in the area.

"These investments connect communities, and you are the best example in America of how well that is working out for us," said Washington Senator Maria Cantwell. 

For just $2, you can ride the train, or you can buy a $4 day pass.

Students from several schools, including Stadium High, now have the ability to get around without a car. Even better, anyone in Pierce County 18 and younger can ride for free. Seniors can also ride at a discount for $1 per ride.

Community leaders said they expect this to help local businesses.

"This is us righting a wrong in our history of making sure that Hilltop isn't just the community that we point at, but hilltop is the community that we all come to, that we all want to be a part of," said Mayor Victoria Woodards, City of Tacoma.

This project in Tacoma was not inexpensive. According to the Build America Bureau, ran by the US Department of Transportation, the price for the expansion ended up costing more than $280 million. In 2015, when the project was in its earliest stages, FOX 13 reported the plan's preliminary cost was $175 million.

Tacoma's deputy mayor, Kristina Walker, said at Saturday's ceremony there are plans in the works to expand an additional three miles connecting with the TCC extension.

Sound Transit also has a warning for people in the Hilltop and Stadium neighborhoods: These trains are going to be running regularly from now on, so make sure you look and listen for trains, and always use a crosswalk.