Businesses want to see more communication about the project, which has now been delayed at least another eight months.
TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood light rail expansion project was originally scheduled to be completed in May 2022, but the project has faced a series of delays, which is now pushing its completion into the first quarter of 2023 and putting additional strain on businesses.
“They use [light rail] as ‘we’re going to benefit you.’ It’s not going to benefit businesses that are going to be put out of business by the construction,” said Marie Price, owner of Proof Patisserie & Cafe.
Price said Thursday the construction moved away from outside her business and down the street, but she expects it to return. Right now, Sound Transit has construction crews on both sides of her block.
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“With the ongoing construction on the street there’s not any flow of traffic to Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which is my street,” said Price.
Sound Transit said it’s been listening to businesses’ concerns and has been working to highlight local businesses with its Loyal to the Local program. But Price wants to see more communication about the project, which has now been delayed at least another eight months. She says at times, construction has started outside her building without any notice, or notice was sent days after work began.
“We want to work with [businesses]. We want to know what’s going on. And if they’ve got issues, we want to try and address them,” said Scott Thompson with Sound Transit.
Thompson said Sound Transit has worked to keep car and pedestrian access open, if possible. Price argues that construction is keeping people away. As a young business, she worries she’s missing new clients and traffic from the holidays.
“When you have no control and feel completely helpless, it’s the worst feeling,” said Price.
Price is looking forward to the benefits of the light rail. She expects to use public transit to get to her store. However, she feels the businesses in the Hilltop neighborhood deserve more communication and accountability for the delays in the project and the impacts it’s had on the neighborhood.
“I don’t have a problem with it actually coming in here, it’s how it’s being dealt with. Knowing that it’s going to be happening they should have put in resources for the businesses that it would affect. The communication would show a little involvement and care for the community they’re affecting,” said Price.