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Sound Transit seeks public input on where to put new light rail from Federal Way to Tacoma

FIFE, Wash. -- Often, a haircut can be a therapy session.

At The Barber Lounge in Fife, barbers and clients on Tuesday were bonding over the misery of traffic.

“It’s insane,” customer Trevor McQueen said.

“There’s been traffic on I-5 for 10 years straight,” barber Albert Carrillo said.

Despite the growing gridlock, some in Pierce County still don’t know how they feel about the light rail expansion coming their way.

Carrillo and McQueen are both on the fence in wondering if the expansion will make a difference.

Sound Transit says the project connecting King County to Pierce County will ease congestion by taking more than 30,000 people off the roads every day.

The agency says there will be four stops between Federal Way and Tacoma.

They include stops at South Federal Way, Fife, East Tacoma and the Tacoma Dome.

The completion date for the project is set for 2030.

At that point, Sound Transit says it will be faster for people in Pierce County to get to Sea-Tac International Airport than for those from Seattle.

“It will be a huge boom to people in Pierce County to get to the airport so quickly,” Sound Transit spokesperson Scott Thompson said.

McQueen says a fast track to the airport is the most exciting thing about the project. But outside of that he doesn't see the benefits for his commute personally.

Right now, the proposed route goes along I-5, similar to the project by Northgate Mall.

The construction already underway at Northgate has elevated tracks and runs along I-5.

But the proposed route for the Tacoma Dome link is not set in stone.

“Everything is on the table at this point,” Thompson said.

Sound Transit is seeking input from the public at three open houses. The first one was set for Tuesday evening at the Best Western Plus at the Tacoma Dome Hotel.

“We are happy to discuss whatever they want to discuss,” Thompson said.

“I think it’s going to help people from Seattle coming down -- a lot of people are moving from Seattle,” Carrillo said.

But Carrillo still has a lot of logistical questions.

“Where are they going to park? People will want to come there, like a bus stop and park, but where would they put a parking deck?" Carrillo asked.

All fair questions that Sound Transit doesn’t have all the answers to until the public weighs in.

The other two open houses will be held on Wednesday at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way and the last on April 24 at the Fife Community Center.

The meetings will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.