UW Tacoma awards construction contract for its section of Prairie Line Trail

Work could begin in weeks, be finished by fall

Tacoma News TribuneMarch 20, 2014 

The University of Washington Tacoma has awarded a contract to John Korsmo construction to build the university's section of the Prairie Line Trail linear park.

The winning bid is for $2,630,793 and will pay for construction of retaining walls, water gardens, trail paying, hardscaping and final landscaping. Half of the 55 trees that will be planted have already arrived and the rest will arrive next week, said UWT spokesman Mike Wark.

Wark said construction should begin within weeks and be finished by early fall.

The plan also includes the placement of a nine-foot-tall bronze sculpture by Seattle artist Gerard Tsutakawa to commemorate Tacoma's Japanese Language School that once stood on Tacoma Avenue within the campus.

A separate contract of $800,000 is paying for soil remediation and should be completed soon.

The trail for bicycles and pedestrians is being built on the right of way once owned by BNSF Railway and is the line that brought the first Northern Pacific trains to tidewater in 1873. It was abandoned and while the railroad had agreed to donate 20-feet of the right of way, the UWT purchased the entire 80 feet for the segment that runs diagonally through the center of its downtown campus.

After several design changes and a one-year delay when initial bids exceeded available money, the UWT is happy to be in the final stretch.

"It's been a long road," Wark said. "We're really thrilled to have it done."

The City of Tacoma has won two grants of federal transportation funds through the Puget Sound Regional Council to design and build its sections of the trail above and below the campus. When finished, the trail will cover a mile from S. 15th Street to S. 26th Street.

One setback to the trail plan was the failure of the Washington Legislature to pass a capital budget. The House version had included $300,000 to let United Way of Pierce County purchase the remaining 60 feet of right of way from BNSF in the section between Pacific Avenue and S. 15th Street. I wrote about that proposal here. But there will be a capital budget next year and the willingness of United Way to be involved, giving that it is the adjoining property owner, should still allow the entire trail section to be developed.








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