Work to extend downtown Tacoma’s Prairie Line Trail, which will eventually run from the Thea Foss Waterway into the city’s Brewery District, is underway.
The multiuse trail will stretch from Pacific Avenue, down Hood Street along the Tacoma Art Museum, across the South 15th Street Bridge to the waterfront. It is scheduled to be complete in March or April, according to the city’s public works department.
This latest phase of the project will add one-third of a mile to the shared-use path that now runs through the University of Washington Tacoma campus. The pathway will have lights, benches, signs and plantings.
“It shows a strong commitment to make the Prairie Line Trail a focal point for the downtown Tacoma experience — beautiful and safe trail from old rail beds,” said Councilman Robert Thoms, whose district includes downtown. When it’s completed, students, families and visitors will “be able to get a bite to eat, shop and walk to our museums and waterfront,” he said.
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We’re seeing economic development spring from it.
Tacoma City Councilman Robert Thoms
The Prairie Line Trail runs along an old railroad bed that once crowned the nation’s second transcontinental railroad by bringing the Northern Pacific Railway to Tacoma tidewater in 1873.
The ribbon was cut on the first part of the trail that cuts through UWT campus in September 2014. That same year, the city acquired the easement for the trail’s extension after six years of negotiations with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
But then Tacoma officials were faced with having to buy an easement BNSF had given Clear Channel Outdoor for a small billboard that stood in the middle of the trail near the art museum. That is, until Clear Channel removed the sign in what city leaders described as a show of goodwill.
The city has worked hard to keep the extension on track, Thoms said, because of its potential economic importance.
“It cuts through the university and lands right at the Brewery District, which is seeing a significant amount of investment,” Thoms said. “I think when we can get not only our own citizens but visitors to go from downtown to the waterfront, then the waterfront to the university, those are all good things.”
The latest work on the trail will also include a retaining wall to support the trail and improvements, the city’s public works staff said. The construction budget is $3.1 million, staff said.