Tacoma, famous for its bridges, has a new one.
Now it looks like a skinny freeway overpass, but sometime in the coming months, Wilson Way will connect Point Defiance Park with the Ruston Way waterfront.
Concrete girders for the 18-foot-wide, 600-foot-long bridge were installed last week. When completed, it will offer spectacular views of Puget Sound as the span crosses the opening of a new boat trailer parking lot and ferry terminal lanes at the park.
The pedestrian walkway is part of a larger expansion plan within the park that was conceived more than a decade ago.
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“The $60 million construction project is one of the early phases of Destination Point Defiance, which is a series of projects that were approved by the voters in 2014 as part of a bond program to bring additional amenities and facilities to Point Defiance Park,” said Marty Stump, a design and construction manager for Metro Parks Tacoma.
Those projects include two roundabouts, soil remediation, a park addition and a completed stormwater treatment facility.
Opening of the bridge hinges on many factors, including weather and associated projects. But Metro Parks officials are pegging it as early as fall.
The bridge will jut out at two points, offering views from Mount Rainier to Vashon Island.
Next to the 50-foot-high bridge will be a series of slides — just like the kind schoolchildren use — built into the hillside to get pedestrians to the waterfront in a matter of seconds. There will also be steps nearby.
As walkers and bikers leave the park over the bridge, they will pass by a slope planted with prairie grasses and shrubs. The trail gradually will decrease in elevation until it parallels the road to the Tacoma Yacht Club.
Once the path reaches the shoreline, it will split. To the south, it will connect with Ruston Way. To the north, it will enter the new park addition under construction.
DESTINATION POINT DEFIANCE PROJECTS
▪ Roundabouts: The intersection that connects Point Defiance Park’s main entrance with ferry lanes, Pearl Street and Park Avenue will be replaced with a roundabout. A new park sign will anchor the center of the circle.
Another roundabout will be installed at the entrance to the boat trailer parking lot. Completion: Fall.
▪ Peninsula Park: The former Asarco slag heap turned 11-acre park is full of construction equipment and piles of dirt and rocks. When finished, it will jut into the water and offer unobscured views of the South Sound. Completion: Fall 2018.
▪ Funding sources: Metro Parks 2005 and 2014 capital improvement bonds, the Environmental Protection Agency, the ASARCO settlement, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Fund and the state departments of Ecology and Transportation.