TacomaScene.com Presents Prairie Line Trail Tacoma, Washington
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TacomaScene.com Presents Tacoma's Prairie Line Trail Project
~ Railroading's Gateway To The Pacific ~

A comprehensive chronology of articles and images of Tacoma's historic
Northern Pacific Railroad's Prairie Line and Tacoma's proposed
Prairie Line Trail thru downtown Tacoma

~ Something That's Been On The City of Tacoma's Drawing Board For Years ~

[  In the beginning... ]
HistoryLink.org Essay 922 - Northern Pacific Railroad announces Tacoma terminus on July 14, 1873

On July 14, 1873, an expectant crowd gathers at Yesler Mill in Seattle to hear Arthur Denny (1822-1899) read a telegram from Northern Pacific Railroad executives R. D. Rice and J. C. Ainsworth announcing the railroad's decision on where to locate the terminus. The crowd expects the terminus to be located in Seattle, but Denny opens the telegram and reads, "We have located the terminus on Commencement Bay." 


Northern Pacific 5004

So. 17th & Pacific Ave. circa 1950
Click image to see larger

Northern Pacific 2148


We invite you also to visit our pictorial essay regarding trains in and around our town
TacomaScene.com/railroading/

...and then on to more recent times ]

The News Tribune - End of the line for historic piece of Tacoma railroad track

PETER CALLAGHAN; The News Tribune
Published 12:30AM, March 30, 2003

Sometime around 5 p.m. on Monday, where the railroad tracks cross Pacific Avenue near the new Tacoma Art Museum, a lot of history will pass by.

Given the construction and disruptions that have become commonplace at this spot, you might not even notice. But if you're around, look for an engine and the handful of freight cars slowly rolling down the hill. The train will have just slid past the century-old warehouses that are now the University of Washington Tacoma campus. Its crew will have a quick peek at Union Station to the south and downtown to the north. They'll then slide under Interstate 705 toward the Foss Waterway and the Moon Yard.  

A minute or so is all it will take. And then the last train to use the state's most historic stretch of track will itself be history. For the first time since 1873, the right of way that brought the first train to Puget Sound will be silent - the result of a $2.2 million deal between Sound Transit and Burlington Northern-Sante Fe.  

Building a second transcontinental railroad, this one across the northern tier of the nation, was a dream of President Abraham Lincoln. It was during the Civil War that he signed the legislation calling for its construction. But the Northern Pacific Railroad took halting steps across the country.

The Prairie Line was part of a line that stretched only to Kalama on the Columbia River. From there passengers and freight would travel by ferry to Portland, where the Oregon short line connected the region to the Union Pacific's transcontinental line.

Still, winning the western terminus in a competition with Seattle and other Puget Sound towns was a big deal. It was July 1873 when the railroad's agents sent telegrams to the towns in the competition, each reading: "We have located the terminus on Commencement Bay."

The locals celebrated - even if the terminus was farther up the bay from their settlement now known as Old Town. When the decision was made, construction crews already were moving north from Kalama.  

But the railroad was running out of time and money. A recession had forced work to stop on construction of the actual transcontinental line in North Dakota. And the federal charter would expire by year's end if the NP hadn't reached tidewater.  

"Two routes were available for bringing the line into town, one with a gentle grade that would run eastward to the Puyallup and follow the river into town, or a shorter one with a steeper grade that would come through today's South Tacoma and Nalley Valley," wrote Murray Morgan in his history of Tacoma, "Puget's Sound."  

"They chose the shorter one to save time."  

The formal completion came on Dec. 16, 1873.  

"By four o'clock the spike was firm, the speeches were over, and Tacoma was the western end of the transcontinental," Murray wrote. "But the track led only down to Kalama, after which there was a fifteen-hundred-mile gap in the line to Bismarck."  

It wasn't until September 1883 that a reorganized and refinanced Northern Pacific completed its transcontinental line with a ceremony in western Montana. And it wasn't until 1888 that the tunnel through Stampede Pass gave Puget Sound an all-rail route east.  

"The arrival of the railroad is the pivotal event in the history of the state of Washington," said David Nicandri, director of the Washington State Historical Society.  

The spot where the tracks cross Pacific and drop to the waterway is a "pretty important place," said Michael Sullivan, who along with Nicandri will speak at a ceremony Tuesday at the UWT marking the closure.  

"That's where Lincoln's dream was fulfilled," said Sullivan, who refers to the Northern Pacific as "Lincoln's Lewis and Clark Expedition."

"Lewis and Clark's mission was to claim territory; Lincoln's was to populate it."  

Local railroad historian Jim Fredrickson said the line across Pacific Avenue was the main line until 1914, when Northern Pacific built a new route around Point Defiance to avoid the steep climb through downtown. The Great Northern Railroad continued to use the old line until 1943, when protests by the city and those stuck waiting for long trains on Pacific led it to shift to the Point Defiance route, Frederick said. It has continued as a route for a few trains that service businesses in South Tacoma, Lakewood and for the military at Fort Lewis.  

Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF, said the railroad agreed to stop using 2.1 miles of the line so that Sound Transit could avoid costly safety improvements needed to allow its light rail trains to intersect with freight trains. The railroad will continue to serve customers on the uphill side of the closed right of way by doubling back from Nisqually, Melonas said.

So 130 years of living history will end Monday. Trains that have become part of the local color of UWT will disappear.  

Let's hope Monday's final train arriving at Tacoma via the Prairie Line will have a better fate than the first. In "Tacoma: Its History and its Builders," Herbert Hunt wrote: "The first train that came into Tacoma was, of course, a construction train and (Nicholas) Lawson was its conductor ... When he brought the first train in, pushing the rude kitchen, dining and sleeping cars ahead of the engine, something went wrong at the foot of 11th Street and most of the train was heaped in a serious wreck."

The thousands that followed have had a much easier time.  

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@mail.tribnet.com
How to get involved

• To commemorate the closure of the Prairie Line, the University of Washington Tacoma will sponsor a lecture Tuesday featuring historic preservation consultant Michael Sullivan and state History Museum director David Nicandri. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Keystone Auditorium, 1900 Commerce St. Admission is free.

The News Tribune - Historic Prairie Line ends 130 years of service  

PETER CALLAGHAN; The News Tribune
Published 12:30AM, April 1, 2003

The final train passed through downtown Tacoma shortly after 5 p.m. Monday on the Prairie Line, the route of the first Northern Pacific train to reach Puget Sound in 1873.

Small clusters of people gathered along the 2.1-mile line between M Street and the Foss Waterway to watch the historic passage.  

The line is being taken out of service after 130 years as part of a deal between Sound Transit and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Sound Transit will avoid costly safety enhancements where its tracks intersect with the Prairie Line at Pacific Avenue and South 17th Street.  

The final train made a slow passage down the hill carrying four empty freight cars. The last train carrying freight climbed the hill about 4:15 p.m. with animal feed, pumice and military equipment, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas.  

To commemorate the closure of the Prairie Line, the University of Washington Tacoma will sponsor a lecture today featuring historic preservation consultant Michael Sullivan and state History Museum director David Nicandri. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Keystone Auditorium, 1900 Commerce St. Admission is free.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@mail.tribnet.com

The News Tribune - Tacoma’s new bike trail pedals a healthy path

THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Last updated: May 11th, 2007 01:23 AM (PDT)

One of the smartest things any community can do for itself is to provide miles and miles of paved trails for bicycling – and for walking, jogging, roller-blading and all the other things people can do safely on traffic-free paths.

Such recreational amenities not only promote fitness at a time when Americans are losing control of their waistlines, but they also provide pollution-free ways for people to get to work.

In this regard, Tacoma has been woefully deficient.

So the official opening of Tacoma’s 5-mile Scott Pierson Trail Saturday calls for celebration – which is exactly what trail proponents and city officials plan for the occasion.

A ceremonial 3.8-mile group ride starts at 9 a.m. at War Memorial Park, near Jackson Avenue and Highway 16 near the Narrows Bridge. A dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at Cheney Stadium.

Many of the riders will be Spandex-clad members of the Tacoma cycling community who were deeply saddened when Scott Pierson, for whom the trail is named, died of a heart attack five years ago.

Pierson’s death was a shock because he was a fit, experienced, 58-year-old cyclist who rode to work daily rain or shine, and every time he could. But it hurt more because he was one of the city’s most dedicated advocates for building bike lanes and trails.

As a city planner, his passion was pushing for what he called “Gentle Ways” for people to ride and walk about the community.

While the trail should be celebrated, it’s sad to note that Tacoma and Pierce County are so far behind King and Thurston counties in providing public recreational trails. The Pierson Trail is the first true bike path in Tacoma. Pierce County’s best trail is the popular, 14.5-mile Foothills Trai from Puyallup to South Prairie.

Except for the newly opened, 3.3-mile Soundview Trail at the Chambers Bay Golf Course, the half-paved Riverfront Trail in Puyallup and the 2.5-mile Cushman Powerline Trail in Gig Harbor, that’s it for Pierce County. A pity.

But public officials are waking up to the public demand for more “gentle ways.” Work will soon begin on extending the Foothills Trail to Buckley. In a year or two it may connect with Puyallup and Sumner and later to King County’s extensive trail network.

Tacoma officials are planning a Water Ditch Trail in South Tacoma, and a coalition called ForeverGreen is working with cities and towns to create a comprehensive trail system in the county.

The progress is frustratingly slow, but the awakening about the value of recreational trails is heartening. Trails are good for us, and for the Earth

.

The News Tribune - Crossing at Pacific should be designed with trails in mind

BOB MYRICK; Tacoma
Published: 12/08/07 12:00 am

I read with great interest the Dec. 2 stories on the Sounder Crossing of Pacific Avenue and the Train and Trail to the Mountain. The Trail and Train is a great idea, and transit might even be combined with a rail system in South Pierce County. This idea is more important now since the Regional Transportation Investment District package was defeated. Development near the tracks could be encouraged.

The Sounder crossing of Pacific Avenue should accommodate the meeting of six present and future trails: the Scott Pierson Trail, the City Water Ditch Trail, the Prairie Line Trail, the Thea Foss Esplanade, the Cross County Commuter Connector Trail and phase one of the Trail to the Mountain. This trail intersection may require paths parallel to the tracks, possibly across Pacific Avenue.

The city should consider asking Sound Transit for mitigation on this crossing since pedestrians, cyclists and cars need to have easy access to both sides of the city cut in two by the tracks. Sound Transit should be offering mitigation since it is well aware of the impact this crossing has on our city. The crossing of Pacific Avenue needs to be designed and thought out to enhance the quality of our life and to allow active transportation like walking and cycling. (Myrick is the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club’s director for community and government relations.)

Exit 133 - BNSF and the Prairie Line Trail

14 May 2008, 11:14 by Whitney Rhodes ~ Rails to Trails

Yesterday, the Council’s Economic Development Committee heard from BNSF on two projects. One was the proposed Prairie Line Trail that traverses downtown. Negotiations between BNSF and the City have produced a “win-win” situation.

The proposed terms include:

  • BNSF will convey to the City, at no charge, a (generally) 20ft wide strip of property approximately between S. 15th and S. 27th
  • BNSF will also convey a strip of land to connect the trail to the City’s Public Works Storage lot between S. 23rd and S. 25th
  • The City will permanently close the crossing of BNSF’s right of way on A St. at Dock St
  • The A St. closure will not happen until the D St. overpass has been finished and operating for 90 days. It will then be closed with temporary barriers until the trail project has reached the point of necessary permanent closure
  • BNSF will authorize the expansion of the 15th St. bridge and provide an air space easement for a future pedestrian overpass between A and D Streets
  • BNSF and the City will explore options for future streetscaping or parks near 17th St. and Hood St.
  • BNSF, the City and WSDOT will have discussions about possible slip ramps for SR 509 in the vicinity of D St.

Exit 133 - Preview of BNSF Prairie Line Trail Deal

17 June 2008, 16:06 by Whitney Rhodes ~ Rails to Trails

This evening’s City Council meeting will include a public hearing on the proposed BNSF Prairie Line Trail and South Tacoma ProLogis Park. What does the large, warehouse distribution center have to do with a right of way trail in downtown? Everything.

The proposed Prairie Line Trail would provide a link between the Water Ditch Trail, Scott Pierson Trail, and the Foss Esplanade (which will hopefully connect nicely with Ruston Way). This section of trail traverses downtown from about 25th to 15th and then down to the waterfront. The City has asked for BNSF to donate the right of way for a trail system several times in the past but has been unsuccessful. By tying it into the ProLogis Park negotiations, the City has made this project possible. But it is not without controversy.

  • Property Acquisition Value of the Prairie Line property is estimated by BNSF at $46 million. They are not donating the entire space but are providing a 20 foot wide thorough fare and allowing tenants along the trail (like UWT) to possibly purchase the rest.
  • Closing of A St. Possible A St closure has been discussed off and on since 1995 within the City for safety and noise issues. Many studies have named it dangerous and traffic studies show with the new D St overpass the area has plenty of road capacity. Also, Sound Transit will be closing, permanently, the section of A St between 25th and 26th for the Lakewood commuter rail line.
  • Design Controls Because the City won’t control the entire right of way questions have been raised about the threat of large buildings creating a scary tunnel effect. The City will have full control over design standards for the buildings around the trail.

While every deal must have compromises, are these the right ones? If you have any opinions, this topic is one of the Public Hearings scheduled for tonight. This should be interesting.

Tacoma Daily Index - City, railroad deal could open downtown Prairie Line trail

June 19, 2008

By Todd Matthews

A former railroad line that runs through the University of Washington Tacoma campus and down to Tacoma's waterfront could be converted into a trail for bikes and pedestrians traveling between South Tacoma and the city's central business district, according to a development deal presently being considered by the City of Tacoma and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.

The plan, however, is contingent upon two variables.

First, a $120-million deal underway between BNSF and ProLogis, a Denver-based company that wants to purchase a 157-acre parcel from the railroad company in order to build its 1.9-million-square-foot distribution center. The deal would also require some cooperation from the city, which owns land in an area that would serve as the distribution center's north access.

Second, BNSF has said it will donate a 20-foot easement of the former Prairie Line, which runs between South 27th and South 15th Street, and crosses Pacific Avenue downtown, if the city will agree to permanently close a portion of A Street, near South 22nd and Dock Streets, in order to create a five-mile continuous rail cargo link between the Port of Tacoma, downtown, and Ruston.

For years, the city has asked BNSF to donate the former railroad line in order to create a connection to the Water Ditch Trail and Scott Pierson Trail, but has not been successful. On Tuesday, a BNSF spokesperson said the railroad company hoped to reach an agreement with the City and ProLogis soon.

"We want to make sure we complete this transaction before we lose traction and it fades away," said BNSF spokesperson James A. Ball during Tuesday's meeting.

"This is huge, getting the property donated," said Tacoma City Councilmember Connie Ladenburg, who spoke during Tuesday's meeting. "I'll venture to guess this does not happen often."

Still, several councilmembers were concerned about the impact of permanently closing A Street.

But City of Tacoma Economic Development Director Ryan Petty noted that Sound Transit already plans to permanently close A Street near 25th Street in order to make way for a future connection to South Tacoma. "It will not be the one-shot thoroughfare it has been in the past," said Petty. He also added that public safety along A Street, near South 22nd and Dock Streets, has been a concern for more than a decade, as pedestrians and cars navigate heavy freight traffic.

A public meeting was held during Tuesday evening's City Council meeting.

Foss Waterway Association president Ted Johnson told councilmembers he was concerned closing A Street would make it more difficult for visitors to access the downtown waterfront.

Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce president David W. Graybill was also concerned about the A Street closure, but added that he supported the economic benefit of the ProLogis development plan.

University of Washington Tacoma spokesperson Mike Wark told councilmembers the university supported opening the Prairie Line to bicyclists and pedestrians. "We support the project as an amenity for our students and the community," said Wark.

The News Tribune - Tacoma City Council approves BNSF rail deal

JASON HAGEY; jason.hagey@thenewstribune.com
Published: 06/25/08 1:00 am | Updated: 06/25/08 11:59 am

Tacoma City Council members reluctantly approved a complex deal Tuesday that eventually could result in development of a bike and pedestrian trail on the abandoned railroad line that runs through the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

In exchange for acquiring a 20-foot-wide section of BNSF Railway’s right-of-way on the old Prairie Line, the council committed the city to closing A Street where it crosses the railroad’s main line at Dock Street, a condition that bothered several council members.

The deal also included a complicated land transaction that will result in development of a huge new distribution center on the railroad’s old shops property in South Tacoma. The 157-acre property is a former Superfund site vacant since 1974.

City officials were eager to get the property back onto the tax rolls, and were excited about the estimated 500 to 600 jobs it is expected to bring.

But council members complained they were not informed of the decision by city staff to tie the issues together, and that they learned about details of the bargain after the fact.

The two elements – the potential trail development and the redevelopment of the old railroad shops property – are unrelated except that BNSF Railway is involved in both of them.

City officials linked the two issues as part of a strategy aimed at acquiring a portion of the Prairie Line from the railroad for a trail, something that they had tried and failed to accomplish for years.

Ryan Petty, director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Department, told council members the decision to approve the deal was up to them, a statement that drew a response from Councilman Jake Fey.

“I would say we have a choice, but we didn’t have a voice,” said Fey, who apologized to his constituents for failing to pick up on the issue after a receiving a memo about it in December.

“I missed this one,” he said. “I probably should have caught it and demanded an executive session.”

Council members frequently discuss real estate negotiations in executive session, or closed-door meetings.

Fey said he was concerned the city was not getting enough from the railroad in exchange for closing the A Street crossing, which raises traffic safety issues for the railroad. The closure will occur in about 90 days, city officials said, but it could take years to develop a trail on the Prairie Line, Fey said.

The resolution was approved by a majority of council members on a voice vote. Fey and Councilman Mike Lonergan were heard casting “no” votes.

Lonergan quizzed city officials about several issues, including the possibility that the federal Surface Transportation Board could require the railroad to offer the entire right-of-way, which is about 80 feet wide, to be used by a government for regional transportation. As part of the process, the railroad will have to seek the board’s approval to abandon the line.

City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said the city is researching the issue, but she did not agree with Lonergan’s assessment that the council should wait for an answer before voting on the resolution.

City Manager Eric Anderson said the city could end up with the entire 80-foot right-of-way if the Surface Transportation Board made such a ruling, but the only way to get the railroad to start the process was to approve the resolution.

Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg said the deal was a good one. She cited the number of new jobs at the distribution center, the access to the waterfront through a trail and the potential for new off-ramps from Highway 509, which requires cooperation from the railroad.

“Put this on the scales and it seems to me the city is really benefiting hugely from these negotiations,” Ladenburg said.

Councilwoman Lauren Walker said she had been closely involved in the issue since January, and offered praise for the city officials who negotiated the deal.

But Councilwoman Marilyn Strickland said she supported the resolution “with a bit of heartburn” over the closure of A Street. Likewise, Councilwoman Julie Anderson said she supported the deal because of the “weight of public benefit.

“But it is not without some unhappiness,” she said.

Jason Hagey: 253-597-8542
blogs.thenewstribune.com/politics

The News Tribune - Gee, why would I be suspicious of the railroad?

PETER CALLAGHAN; THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Published: 06/29/08 1:00 am

What is it about 135 years of local history that makes me not trust the railroad?

Besides all of it, I mean.

Being from the town that was made and slowly broken by the Northern Pacific Railway, it’s hard to find an episode that makes me feel warm and cuddly toward the company.

So when Burlington Northern Santa Fe tells Tacoma that it has a great deal for it but that the city has to decide right now or the deal goes poof, I get a bit worried. Rather than grab for the noisemakers and party hats, I can’t help but clutch for my wallet instead.

Because from its creation by the signature of Abraham Lincoln, what is now known as BNSF has made lots of money taking towns like Tacoma for a ride.

Doubt it? The Washington Constitution and the Tacoma city charter have sections created solely to make it harder for governments to be taken advantage of by the railroads.

Washington has an archaic-sounding section prohibiting elected officials from taking free tickets from the railroads. It also bans the lending of public credit to private companies, primarily to keep the railroad from demanding tax dollars in exchange for connecting a town to the mainline.

And Tacoma prohibits the sale of waterfront property because then-Mayor Angelo Fawcett, who in 1911 finally acquired a measly 350 feet on what is now the Foss Waterway, was sure the railroad would succeed in buying it back once it had him recalled by voters.

So forgive me for worrying that a deal between the city and the railroad that was set in motion last week might not be as good as it looks.

The city gets a 20-foot swath of the historic Prairie Line right of way in return for agreeing to close the A Street underpass that connects the Foss Waterway with Puyallup Avenue.

The line that in 1873 brought the first Northern Pacific train to tidewater on the West Coast will be transformed – eventually – into a bike path and walking path. It will run from the Foss, through the University of Washington Tacoma and on to South 27th Street. From there it could link with the proposed Water Ditch Trail and run all the way to the southern boundary of the city.

That’s cool. But why can’t we get all 80 feet of the right of way to make sure that the trail isn’t lined with undesirable development or left unkempt as it is now?

And why is everyone in such a hurry to seal a deal that the people, and some City Council members, have known about for just a few weeks?

The council was told last week that it could reject the issue before it, authorizing city staff to complete the series of negotiations with BNSF. But that would require a reopening of the talks with the railroad.

“I don’t know what the outcome of that would be,” said city economic development director Ryan Petty, suggesting that the Prairie Line acquisition – at least the donation of it – would be in danger.

“BNSF has been wrangled into this,” Petty said. “They don’t want to give up the Prairie Line.”

But it’s not like BNSF isn’t equally eager for a deal since it also is getting city cooperation, and some property, that allows a Denver company to redevelop the railroad’s long-closed South Tacoma shops into a distribution center serviced by 1,000 truck trips a day. It would make a fair amount of cash with that. (Isn’t that the same property that symbolizes the final abandonment of Tacoma by Northern Pacific?)

And what, exactly, can it do with the Prairie Line that makes it any money? If anything, having a city-funded trail in the middle makes it worth more, not less.

Yet we’re told that any delay to allow those questions to be asked, any chance to involve the public in the conversation, would unravel the deal. And the council, played skillfully by city staff, has to go along.

Which is exactly how to run a railroad, if you’re the railroad.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657

peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com
blogs.thenewstribune.com/politics

The News Tribune - Tacoma’s Prairie Line trail worth doing – the right way

Published: 06/29/08 1:00 am

Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson violated one of the most basic rules of manager-council relations in pursuing a rails-to-trails project: Never surprise your boss.

Several of Anderson’s bosses on the City Council complained last week that they were left out of the loop on a deal with BNSF Railway.

The city has long wanted to acquire part of the old Prairie Line, the route of the first Northern Pacific train to reach Puget Sound. The line, which intersects the University of Washington Tacoma campus, could be a valuable addition to the city’s trail network, linking downtown with South Tacoma via the Water Ditch Trail and the Tacoma Narrows via the Scott Pierson Trail.

City staff say they finally found the leverage they needed in the railroad’s plans to bring a distribution center to its property in South Tacoma. They struck a deal to sell the railroad property it needs for an access road plus solve railroad safety problems by closing A Street where it crosses Dock Street

In exchange, the railroad would deed 20 feet of the Prairie Line right-of-way to the city.

The negotiations were mentioned in a memo included in a council packet around the holidays last year, a memo that didn’t get much notice. Pardon council members for assuming that city staff would have brought something this big to them for discussion while it was being negotiated. That’s usually how significant real estate transactions unfold.

As it happened, the council had one of two options: Accept the deal as is or don’t. It was no choice at all.

Now the council – and the community – are left to wonder if the city drove the best bargain possible. It’s impossible to know without answers to many questions surrounding the deal — questions as basic as BNSF’s claim to the Prairie Line right-of-way. The city can’t say because it hasn’t researched property records.

Had the council had a voice in the negotiations, the city might have addressed such concerns earlier without putting the entire accord at risk. But even now, after the City Council has somewhat begrudgingly given its go-ahead, city officials owe the community answers and proof that they did their due diligence.

City of Tacoma - Construction Project Details - Prairie Line Trail

<About  07 01 2010 >

The approximately one mile long Prairie Line Trail is envisioned as the spine of Tacoma's pedestrian and bicycle network and a major gateway to the Foss Waterfront. The Trail follows the non-operational Prairie Line rail corridor, running from Dock Street at its northern end to South 25th Street, where it will connect with the Water Ditch Trail (which comes in from South Tacoma). It will provide a premier bicycle and pedestrian pathway serving downtown Tacoma's employees, residents and visitors, connecting users to many of Tacoma's most significant public spaces and destinations, including the waterfront, the Museum district, the University of Washington Tacoma campus and the Historic Brewery District.

The intersection of the trail and South 21st Street needs additional consideration due to the heavy vehicular traffic traveling on South 21st Street to and from the Interstate. There has been discussion about a possible underpass or overpass at this location but no decision has been reached. Either of these options would be a considerable undertaking and merits public meetings and comment. Currently there is a signalized pedestrian crossing approximately 100 feet east of the trail that functions adequately but is not optimal.

The approximately one mile trail has been designed for high capacity usage by pedestrians and bicyclists. Most of the trail will be a 20 foot wide multi-use pathway; the section through the University of Washington Tacoma campus will have two separated paths to enhance safety and trail capacity by accommodating the faster speed of bicyclists and the more social nature of pedestrians on a college campus.

The City of Tacoma is currently in the planning phase of this project. The City of Tacoma has obligated the engineering funds for this project.

Task Name Start Date Finish Date
  Planning 1/4/2010 7/30/2010
  Design 8/2/2010 12/31/2012
  Advertising and Award 1/1/2013 4/1/2013
  Construction 4/2/2013 9/16/2013

2010 Statewide Transportation Enhancements Program - PSRC Regional Application 1 P2010

<About  07 01 2010 >


PROJECT IDENTIFICATION AND DESCRIPTION

1 PROJECT TITLE: Prairie Line Trail - The Heart of Tacoma's Urban Trail System

2 TRANSPORTATION 2040 ID# 2688

3 SPONSORING AGENCY: City of Tacoma

4 PROJECT CONTACT: Diane Wiatr; dwiatr@cityoftacoma.org; 253-591-5380

5 PROJECT DESCRIPTION

PROPOSED WORK

The Transportation Enhancement grant will fund the Preliminary Engineering (PE) for the Prairie Line Trail, an approximately 1 mile long trail connecting key destinations in downtown Tacoma, and planning for the challenging street crossing at S. 21st Street. The Prairie Line Trail is a priority of the City Council and this completion of PE will position us to be in a state of readiness to construct the trail as soon as funding is available.

1. Preliminary Engineering:
The approximately 1 mile trail has been designed for high capacity usage by pedestrians and bicyclists. Most of the trail will be a 20 foot wide multi-use pathway; the section through the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) campus will have two separated paths to enhance safety and trail capacity by accommodating the faster speed of bicyclists and the more social nature of pedestrians on a college campus.

2. Planning:
The intersection of the trail and South 21st Street needs additional consideration due to the heavy vehicular traffic traveling on South 21st Street to and from the Interstate. There has been discussion about a possible underpass or overpass at this location but no decision has been reached. Either of these options would be a considerable undertaking and merits public meetings and comment. Currently there is a signalized pedestrian crossing approximately 100 feet down from the trail that functions adequately but is not optimal.

PROJECT ELIGIBILITY

The proposed project fits in the Provision of Facilities For Bicycles And Pedestrians category. The project is located within a designated Regional Growth Center and meets ADA requirements. The project also meets several other eligible work types (see question 7, below).

EXISTING & PROPOSED CONDITIONS

The Prairie Line Trail will transform the historic Prairie Line rail corridor into a distinctive urban pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects downtown Tacoma’s most significant recreational, cultural, and educational destinations to its waterfront. The Prairie Line Trail connects the revitalized Thea Foss Waterway to the museum district, through the University of Washington Tacoma campus and downtown’s historic Brewery District.

The Prairie Line Trail is the most important link in Tacoma's nonmotorized system, connecting the waterfront and downtown with multiple city and regional trails. Traversing the steep hills of Tacoma is a challenge—the gentle grade of this former rail corridor provides an easier walking and cycling alternative. The existing conditions of the trail include 20 feet of intact Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail corridor that is overgrown with grasses and weeds, surrounded by historic warehouses. The section of the corridor passing through the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) campus is framed by notable adaptive reuse historic buildings. The trail also provides yet another important link in the region's trail system with connections to multiple cities and attractions such as Chambers Bay Recreation Area and the Foothills Trail.

The trail will also incorporate lighting, way-finding, enhanced street crossings, and green features, as well as space for future installation of public art, small parks and resting areas, and interpretive historic features, combining an attractive and much needed public open space with a key transportation link.

PROJECT NEED

City and UWT plans emphasize the Prairie Line Trail as the gateway to the waterfront, and fundamental to the vision of an attractive, livable and revitalized downtown that builds on its unique natural, historic and cultural assets. The Prairie Line Trail has a large audience in its immediate vicinity as it is located in the core of Tacoma's downtown designated Regional Growth Center.

The Prairie Line Trail will improve bicycle and pedestrian access and safety downtown. Currently bicyclists downtown must travel with cars, as there is a widespread lack of designated lanes or facilities for bicycles.

The Prairie Line Trail will address a longstanding issue--the difficulty of accessing the Foss Waterway from downtown due to the separation created by the freeway and rail corridors. Currently pedestrian access to the downtown waterfront generally occurs across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.

In addition, pedestrian street crossings are not optimal, in particular for the high volumes of pedestrians anticipated along the trail. The trail will address the lack of nonmotorized facilities through provision of a premium trail that will serve a broad base of users.

Access will be enhanced considerably with the Prairie Line Trail which will serve as a well marked gateway to the waterfront. Visitors at the downtown hotels and convention center will likely use the Prairie Line Trail to access the water. Visitors to the Tacoma Art Museum will have the trail at their door. And bicyclists will have access to the water which is currently prohibited on the bridge. In addition, the trail will create a pedestrian loop, connecting to the Foss Esplanade, Chihuly Bridge of Glass and Pacific Avenue.

The trail will link to the Foss Esplanade, Tacoma’s premier public space, which has been realized in part through decades of city and public investment in transforming this former industrial area.

Attached is a package of supporting graphic exhibits, including maps of the trail location, photos of existing conditions, and design schematics for the trail.

6 PROJECT LOCATION

Downtown Tacoma, Pierce County

7 PROJECT TYPE

Provision of Facilities for Bicycles and Pedestrians
Acquisition of Scenic Easements & Scenic or Historic Sites
Scenic or Historic Highway Programs (including tourist & welcome center facilities)
Landscaping and other Scenic Beautification
Historic Preservation
Rehabilitation and Operation of Historic Transportation Buildings, Structures or Facilities
Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors (including conversion and use for pedestrian or bicycle trails)
Control and Removal of Outdoor Advertising
Archaeological Planning and Research
Mitigation of Water Pollution due to Highway Runoff or Reduce Vehicle-Caused Wildlife Mortality while
Maintaining Habitat Connectivity
Provision of Safety and Educational Activities for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Establishment of Transportation Museums

PLAN CONSISTENCY

8 CONSISTENCY WITH VISION 2040 AND TRANSPORTATION 2040

Certification Status: Certified Date of certification action (mm/dd/yy): 05/24/07
The project is specifically identified in the local comprehensive plan, City of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Element (page T-34)
Downtown Element (page DT-49), Open Space Habitat and Recreation Element (page OS-33)
University of Washington, Tacoma's 2009 Master Plan page 66.

LOCAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

City of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Element (page T-34), Downtown Element (page DT-49), Open Space Habitat and Recreation Element (page OS-33)
University of Washington, Tacoma's 2009 Master Plan page 66.

ADDITIONAL REGIONAL PROJECT EVALUATION

9 RELATIONSHIP TO CENTERS

The Prairie Line Trail runs through the heart of Downtown Tacoma Regional Growth Center. Designation of Downtown Tacoma as a ‘Regional Growth Center’ in the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC’s) VISION 2040 involves the assignment of major responsibilities for accepting a very significant share of regional and county population and employment growth.

These responsibilities are set forth in PSRC’s Metropolitan Planning Policies and Pierce County’s Countywide Planning Policies, policies that the GMA mandates must be incorporated into the City of Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan. To implement the goals and policies of the Regional Growth Center, the City is planning for approximately 15 million net square feet of floor space, an amount sufficient to accommodate most if not all of VISION 2040’s population and employment allocation for the City through 2030 together with the infrastructure required for this scale of investment to take place. The precise population and employment figures have not yet been set but are anticipated to exceed 70,000 people and 60,000 jobs.

10 COMMUNITY SUPPORT

The Prairie Line Trail has received enthusiastic support from City Council, Mayor and City Manager. The trail, as part of a critical nonmotorized transportation network, is also supported in multiple plan and policy documents/frameworks ranging from the Growth Management Act's call to create dense, livable communities served by the full range of transportation options, to Puget Sound Regional Council’s regional vision for growth centers, to the local level in many policy documents of the City of Tacoma and in the University of Tacoma's Master Plan.

There has been overwhelmingly positive support from the public, key stakeholders and from environmental and trail advocacy groups for the development of the Prairie Line Trail. The City of Tacoma has developed active partnerships with key stakeholders such as the Tacoma Art Museum and the University of Washington as well as neighboring businesses. Full build-out of the proposed trail system is a key strategy for Tacoma to meet state, regional and local objectives including reducing carbon emissions, increasing healthy active lifestyles, historic preservation, public art, open space and recreation, economic development, nonmotorized transportation. Vision/Transportation 2040 designates Downtown Tacoma a Regional Growth Center and calls for multimodal transportation.

The Prairie Line Trail is an integral feature of all of Tacoma’s policy documents pertaining to downtown and to nonmotorized connectivity. The Prairie Line is emphasized as a priority in the Downtown Element, Transportation Element, Open Space Habitat and Recreation Element of the Comprehensive Plan, as well as the University of Tacoma Master Plan, and the City’s Brewery District Study. As such, the Trail has been a focus of multiple public participation processes where trails advocates and environmental groups and other stakeholders provided input on the Prairie Line as part of the City’s long range vision and objectives.

In addition, the City has convened a stakeholder group to provide detailed input on the trail design, construction and maintenance. The stakeholder group will continue to provide vital input at every stage of the project.

LETTERS OF SUPPORT FOR THE PRAIRIE LINE TRAIL

Metro Parks Tacoma
United Way Tacoma
University of Washington - Tacoma
Tacoma Marriott Hotel
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
Transportation Choices Coalition
Foss Waterway Development Authority
Executive Council For A Greater Tacoma

PUBLIC MEETINGS

Prairie Line Trail Design Charette and Stakeholder Meetings
Stakeholder Meetings: , Tacoma Municipal Building
Design Charrette: 06/25/10, 9AM, Tacoma Art Museum
Transportation Element: In 2010 the City Council amended the Transportation Element of the
Comprehensive Plan through the Mobility Master Plan process, reflecting the Council’s priorities for nonmotorized transportation. The Prairie Line Trail is highlighted as a priority project in the Element. As a major policy initiative and an amendment to Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan, this project was addressed as part of the Mobility Master Plan (MoMaP) in multiple public forums. In particular, the MoMaP included the following 5 public workshops at which the public had the opportunity to provide in depth and detailed input:

• South Park Community Center, 09/23/09, 5PM;• Norpoint Center, 09/24/09, 5PM;• University of Puget Sound (UPS), 09/28/09, 5PM;• University of Washington Tacoma (UWT), 02/11/10, noon;• UPS Campus, 02/11/10, 6PM.Downtown Element: In 2008 the City Council amended the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan to reflect Tacoma’s goals and priorities for this area. As part of that process, design guidelines for the development of the Prairie Line Trail were formulated and adopted. The Downtown Element was addressed in multiple public meetings, including the following key public workshops:

• July 30, 2008 5:30pm Tacoma Municipal Building• October 30, 2008 5:00 pm, Freighthouse Square Open Space Habitat and Recreation Element: In 2008 the City Council amended the Open Space Element of the Comprehensive Plan to reflect Tacoma’s goals and priorities for open space, habitat and recreation. As part of that process, the City Council adopted strong policies supporting trail development as well as a trail system map, including the Prairie Line Trail as a key segment.

- Key public workshop held on 07/09/08 at Point Defiance Lodge, 6pm.
Brewery District Study: In 2009, the City completed a study of the development potential and key strategies for downtown Tacoma’s Historic Brewery District. The Study highlights the vital importance of the Prairie Line Trail as a key feature for nonmotorized travel, as well as the redevelopment and revitalization of the historic brewery district. For this study, the consultants conducted individual interviews of over 20 key stakeholders, as well as an online survey which generated more than 200 responses. In addition, the City hosted a public workshop on 12-09-09, UWT campus at 5:30 pm.

University of Washington - Tacoma Master Plan: In 2008 UWT Tacoma adopted an update to its Master Plan providing guidance on the next 20 ye3ars of their growth and development. The Master Plan again highlights the critical importance of the Prairie Line Trail to nonmotorized transportation as well as to the design and development of the campus. UWT hosted over a dozen meetings with stakeholders and the public in the first six months of 2008.

11 FINANCIAL PLAN

11A: Enhancements Funds Requested
Trail - Pacific Ave. Hood St. to Dock St - Preliminary Engineering 07/01/11 $85,000
Trail - S. 17th St to 21st Street Preliminary Engineering 07/01/11 $185,000
Trail - S. 21st St to S. 25th St - Preliminary Engineering 07/01/11 $145,000
Grade Separated Crossing at S. 21st St - Planning 07/01/11 $50,000
$TOTAL: $465000

11B: Existing Secured Funding
TOTAL: $

11C: Needed future funding (unsecured)
TOTAL: $

11D: Total Project Cost
Planning: $50,000 Planning: 07/01/12
Preliminary Engineering/Design: $415,000 Preliminary Engineering/Design: 07/01/12
Right of Way: $ Right of Way:
Construction: $ Construction:
Other (Specify): $ Other (specify):
Total Project Cost: $465,000

11E. Identify the project phases (PE, ROW, CN, etc.) that will be fully completed if requested funding is obtained: Preliminary Engineering will be complete for the entire trail, with the exception of the S. 21st Street Grade Separated Crossing for which Planning will be completed.

12 PROJECT READINESS

12A.

12B.

13 OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

The development of the Prairie Line Trail has been made possible through the donation of landform BNSF Railroad to the City of Tacoma. The City has worked for years to court BNSF to reach this point. Thus, the development of the trail represents a unique opportunity that Tacoma cannot afford to miss. The City and its partners have already invested significantly in both labor and funds, and will continue to do so even after the trail itself is constructed, through ongoing investment in public art, historic interpretation and other features that will enhance the experience of trail users.

PART 2: CATEGORY SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

14 NONMOTORIZED PROJECTS

Nonmotorized Projects: Complete question 15.

15 NONMOTORIZED PROJECTS

• The project extends, completes or otherwise adds to an existing nonmotorized system or network: This project adds to an existing nonmotorized network in several ways: It links to the pedestrian network of the Esplanade on the Thea Foss Waterway, downtown sidewalks and crosswalks, and UWT campus pedestrian pathways. The Prairie Line Trail intersects with the existing Thea Foss Waterway multi-use trail that runs along the downtown waterfront and will eventually extend as far north as Pt. Defiance Park. It also completes a pedestrian loop by connecting the Foss Waterfront Esplanade to Pacific Avenue, and to the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. In terms of bicycle linkages, the Prairie Line Trail is itself the spine of the future multiuse trail system. Downtown currently lacks dedicated bicycle infrastructure—developing it is a high priority. The Prairie Line Trail is identified as a Short-term Priority in the newly adopted Mobility Master Plan. In upcoming years the Prairie Line Trail will also connect on its southern end to the Water Ditch Trail and to an expanded street network of bicycle infrastructure as outline in the City’s 2010 Mobility Master Plan. The Prairie Line Trail will define the heart of Tacoma’s nonmotorized system.• The project connects or links to other multimodal facilities: Downtown's multimodal environment will be enhanced considerably with the development of the Prairie Line Trail. This project links with the Foss Waterway which leads directly to the Tacoma Dome Transit Station. Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, the LINK light rail and the Sounder commuter rail are all served at the Tacoma Dome Station and serve thousands of travelers per day. Numerous Pierce Transit stops as well as the LINK light rail are within two blocks of the Prairie Line Trail. The bus stops in close proximity to the Prairie Line Trail serve Seattle and Olympia as well as downtown and many Tacoma neighborhoods. The Brewery District Study characterizes that area as a Multimodal Transit District, and emphasizes the Prairie Line Trail as essential to this vision.

• The project addresses current nonmotorized needs in the community: The Prairie Line Trail project will enhance safety for bicyclists and pedestrians throughout its length in numerous ways. First and foremost, it provides a dedicated travel space separated from automobiles. In addition, it will improve signage, wayfinding and signalization to signal to all travelers the presence of cyclists and pedestrians. It will improve the safety of street crossings through these methods as well as through a pedestrian island on Pacific Avenue, enhancements to crosswalks, and other methods. Within the UWT Campus, the project will promote safety by providing separate pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.

This project addresses four significant gaps in downtown Tacoma’s nonmotorized system:

1. Bicycle access from Pacific Avenue to the waterfront

2. North/south nonmotorized travel through the UWT campus and Brewery District

3. The street crossing at S. 21st Street

4. The lack of a nonmotorized connection to downtown Tacoma from South Tacoma’s centers and neighborhoods.

1. ENHANCE BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ACCESS TO THE WATERFRONT: Currently pedestrian access to the downtown waterfront generally occurs on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass over Interstate 705. However, riding bicycles across the bridge is prohibited. Access to the waterfront will be considerably enhanced by the Prairie Line Trail which will serve bicyclists as well as pedestrians, and will be easily identifiable by a well-marked “gateway”. It will provide bicyclists and pedestrians an additional route to the waterfront as well as an attractive walking loop past the Tacoma Art Museum, Waterfront Esplanade, Museum of Glass and Washington History Museum.

2. ENHANCE NORTH-SOUTH CONNECTIVITY: The second gap that will be addressed by the Prairie Line Trail is the current lack of nonmotorized facilities downtown and the restricted movement for cyclists through the UWT campus. The campus is closed north/south to vehicular traffic and bicyclists need to dismount when they arrive at campus. The Prairie Line Trail will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to efficiently and safely travel north/south through the UWT campus and the Brewery District.

3. ADDRESS DIFFICULT CROSSING AT SOUTH 21ST STREET: The third gap this project will begin to address is the crossing of S. 21st St. This is a challenging, high volume street that separates the Brewery District and the UWT (approximately 17,721 ADT). A signalized pedestrian crosswalk currently serves the area but as the number of users increases the existing crosswalk will not be optimal. Pedestrian sightlines for vehicles traveling west are difficult due to the steep grade, and pedestrians feel exposed due to fast-moving, heavy traffic volumes during peak hours. There are several possible solutions making the best use of the change in grade at Jefferson and 21st Street. Both options would require significant public and private investment and a coordinated approach during the build-out and design of the trail.

4. LINK DOWNTOWN TO CITY AND REGIONAL NONMOTORIZED SYSTEM: The Prairie Line Trail will be a vital link in the citywide and regional nonmotorized connectivity with downtown Tacoma (see Map Exhibits). In particular, the Prairie Line Trail will connect with the future Water Ditch Trail via two blocks of nonmotorized improvements to be constructed by Sound Transit in association with their Sounder extension project. Sound Transit will be improving two blocks of multi-use pathway (along South 25th Street and South C Street) with a separated multi-use pathway that will link the Water Ditch Trail (on South Tacoma Way) to the Prairie Line Trail, as well as addressing the Sounder crossing at South C Street with a signalized crossing.

• Level of Public Exposure or Access to the Project: There is a very high level of public exposure, access and interest in this project due to its prominent downtown location and its historic significance as the rail corridor around which Tacoma was built. The Trail directly links some of downtown’s most dense mixed-use areas, including the Foss Waterfront and the UWT campus, with many of Tacoma’s most prominent public institutions and spaces, which see significant numbers of visitors, and are expected to see more over time.

The Prairie Line Trail has a large audience in its immediate vicinity as it is located in the core of Tacoma's downtown designated growth center. Tacoma is the third largest city in the state, with a population of 203,000, and is expected to grow by about 100,000 by 2040. Downtown is expected to house and employ a considerable portion of that expanded population. VISION 2040’s population and employment allocation for the City through 2030 together with the infrastructure required for this scale of investment to take place. The precise population and employment figures have not yet been set but are anticipated to exceed 70,000 people and 60,000 jobs.

There are already high populations of residents, students and employees in the immediate vicinity of the Prairie Line Trail and all sectors are expected to increase considerably in upcoming years. In the downtown area there are currently 33,500 employees, approx 12,000 residents, and 3,100 students at UWT. UWT – Tacoma will triple its current number of students and is starting to build residential housing to accommodate them within a block of the trail.

Downtown is also an attractor for visitors with the Convention Center, museums, UWT campus, Foss Waterway and Esplanade, the Tacoma Dome, as well as restaurants and hotels. The Tacoma Art Museum has approximately 100,000 visitors annually and last year the City hosted over 2 million visitors overall.

The Brewery District is seen as the next likely center for growth within downtown as adaptive reuse of the historic warehouse buildings occurs. It is zoned to permit a broad range of land uses at high densities. The 2009 Brewery District Study envisions new buildings facing the trail, which is seen as a key tool for the economic revitalization of the District.

The Foss Waterway is also zoned for a broad mix of uses at high densities. Already built out with the Museum of Glass and several prominent mixed-use buildings, the Waterfront is anticipated to develop into a high density mixed-use neighborhood and regional destination for visitors.

• The objective of this project is the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians and bicyclists on a multi-use trail through downtown Tacoma.

While the fundamental function of the Prairie Line Trail is surface transportation, it will provide multiple other benefits to community including historic preservation, recreation, and economic revitalization. The City of Tacoma and its partners envision the trail as providing a unique experience for its users, by providing striking views of Mount Rainier, downtown and the Port of Tacoma, by the unique character of the abutting historic and contemporary buildings, and by the linkage it creates with important public spaces. In the future, the City and partners will seek to improve areas abutting the trail with public art, historic interpretive features, green features, recreational amenities and street furniture. As such, the trail forms the backbone for what will become a unique public space serving downtown residents, as well as cyclists and pedestrians traveling from nearby neighborhoods or from outside the city

PRAIRIE LINE TRAIL- MAPS

Map 1: Prairie Line Trail and community trail linkages

Map 2: Prairie Line Trail in the heart of downtown Tacoma

PHOTO WALK-THROUGH OF EXISTING CONDITIONS ALONG THE PRAIRIE LINE TRAIL

Photo 1: Prairie Line Trail through historic Brewery District

Photo 2: Prairie Line Trail through UWT Campus

Photo 3: Prairie Line Trail through UWT campus

Photo 4: Prairie Line Trail approaching Pacific Avenue

Photo 5: Prairie Line Trail on Hood St. adjacent to Tacoma Art Museum

Photo 6: Thea Foss Waterway at the terminus of the Prairie Line Trail

PROPOSED PRAIRIE LINE TRAIL DESIGN

Drawing 1: Trail next to Tacoma Art Museum, down to the Foss

Drawing 2: UWT Campus – Separated paths for pedestrians and bikes

Drawing 3: Proposed land uses in the Brewery District adjacent to the Prairie Line Trail

Drawing 4: Prairie Line Trail pedestrian connections

Drawing 5: So. 21st Street bridge option

Drawing 6: So. 21st Street tunnel option

http://psrc.org/assets/4268/84_Tacoma_-_Prairie_LIne_Trail.pdf

Tacoma Chamber of Commerce - City Center Luncheon Topic - Prairie Line Trail:  preliminary plans

Date: 7/16/2010
Time: 11:30 AM TO 1:30 PM

The Prairie Line Trail is an urban biking and walking trail planned for the abandoned Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad corridor that bisects downtown Tacoma. The Prairie Line Trail is slated to be transformed into a linear park linking planned redevelopment in the Brewery District to the University of Washington Tacoma, Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma Art Museum and the Thea Foss Esplanade.

UW Tacoma - Help design the Prairie Line Trail

Jill - Posted on 3 August 2010

Aug. 3, 2010—The City of Tacoma is making plans to transform the abandoned railroad tracks through campus into part of an urban pedestrian and bicycle trail, and they’re inviting the public to help design it. Share your input on preliminary designs for the Prairie Line Trail at a design workshop next Monday, Aug. 9, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Carwein Auditorium.

The city is applying for grant funding to construct Phase 1 of the trail, from the Thea Foss Waterway to UW Tacoma. Future phases will extend the trail through the Brewery District to South Tacoma.

Tacoma Daily Index - Prairie Line Trail design workshop August 9, 2010

August 5, 2010

Prairie Line Trail

The City of Tacoma will host a design workshop Monday, August 9, 2010, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Carwein Auditorium on the University of Washington Tacoma campus to discuss the future of the Prairie Line Trail. The City has been working on a $2.1 million grant request to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to complete the trail from Dock Street to South 21st Street along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail corridor, and provide a bicycle and pedestrian connection to Thea Foss Waterway, Tacoma Art Museum, Tollefson Plaza, and the University of Washington Tacoma. Similarly, the City has worked on a $465,000 grant request to the Puget Sound Regional Council's Transportation Enhancement Program in order to fund planning and preliminary engineering and design. Future phases will extend the trail south through downtown Tacoma's Brewery District, ultimately connecting to the Water Ditch Trail (which comes in from South Tacoma).

BIA - Business Improvement Area - Prairie Line Trail Update

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On Monday, August 9, 2010 the City of Tacoma applied for design and construction grants as part of the ongoing process of transforming the abandoned Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad corridor into an urban pedestrian and bicycle trail.

The Prairie Line Trail will be a linear park linking planned redevelopment in the Brewery District to the University of Washington Tacoma, Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma Art Museum and the Thea Foss Esplanade. The trail will provide better access from the south end of downtown to the Foss Waterway and will be a benefit to businesses and employees. Additionally, the Prairie Line Trail will connect to other regional trails including the Historic Water Ditch Trail and the Scott Pierson Trail.

Posted by Laura Kashiwase at 10:31 AM 

The News Tribune - BICYCLES: Include bike track in redesign

KEN PEACHEY; Tacoma

Last updated: December 7th, 2010 12:18 AM (PST)

From 9 a.m.-noon Thursday at the Tacoma Art Museum, the City of Tacoma will take public input on the redesign of the Pacific Avenue streetscape from the University of Washington Tacoma to Schuster Parkway. Based on guiding principles released by the Tacoma City Council, access and infrastructure for bicyclists will be minimally emphasized in the streetscape design.

I advocate the inclusion of a cycle track, an exclusive bicycle path within the onstreet infrastructure. Cycle tracks are safe, efficient facilities that accommodate a variety of cycling abilities along heavily traveled routes, all key factors in increasing the number of cyclists from a small minority to a broader audience.

The north terminus of the Prairie Line Trail, which is currently in the design phase and will deliver bike and pedestrian traffic from points south through the UWT campus, will cross Pacific Avenue at Seventh Street; shouldn’t these pedestrians and cyclists be offered safe access to the services and amenities of downtown?

A city’s main street speaks to what its citizens and leaders value. From Minneapolis to Memphis and New York to Portland, cities are revitalizing their downtown cores by welcoming pedestrians and cyclists; the result is vibrant communities that compete locally and nationally for business and residents.

The News Tribune - UWT, Tacoma OK downtown trail deal

LEWIS KAMB; Staff writer
Published: 01/12/11 7:27 am | Updated: 01/12/11 11:29 am

With bigger ideas for a long-planned trail system in mind, the Tacoma City Council struck a deal Tuesday with the University of Washington Tacoma that will allow the college to take ownership of a swath of railway property bisecting its downtown campus.

In exchange for the 20-foot-wide stretch within the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s old right of way that will help the university complete a library expansion project, the UWT has agreed to grant three future property easements to the city, including public access for its planned Prairie Line Trail.

The university also will develop, own, operate and maintain the segment of the planned public trail that will stretch between South 17th and South 21st streets through its campus. City and UWT officials plan to work cooperatively to design the trail section, the southern portion of which is expected to be completed by the fall of 2012, city officials said.

“We have every confidence they will construct a trail segment consistent with the quality of trail segments we’re envisioning for our overall project,” Ryan Petty, director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Department, said Tuesday.

The agreement, approved unanimously by the council, is the first in a series of steps city officials hope to take this year to establish a formal development plan for the Prairie Line Trail, Petty said.

The city has long planned to develop a “rails-to-trails” system of public pathways through downtown Tacoma and beyond. Part of the vision hinged on acquiring and developing the old Prairie Line, a key link within the city’s grander plan for a public trails network.

The route of the first Northern Pacific train to reach Puget Sound, the now-abandoned Prairie Line, cuts directly through the UWT’s campus and offers development potential to connect downtown with South Tacoma via the Water Ditch Trail, and with the Tacoma Narrows via the Scott Pierson Trail.

Funding for design work on a Prairie Line Trail is in place, but finding money to develop an overall trail running from South 25th to Dock Street – with early estimates at $5.7 million – remains an issue. City officials are now applying for grants and seeking alternative funding sources, Petty said. “It’s a very high priority for us,” he said.

In 2008, the city agreed to a deal with BNSF to acquire part of the railway’s right of way through the UWT campus for the project. Last year, UWT bought the remaining two-thirds of the Prairie Line right of way from BNSF in preparation for a campus library expansion project set to break ground in March, UWT spokesman Mike Wark said. The university also negotiated to acquire the BNSF land promised to the city, leading to Tuesday’s deal.

According to the agreement, the UWT views all of the railway property through its campus as “an integral part of its Campus Master Plan.” In the short term, the university needs full ownership to eventually build a sky bridge above the old line that will connect the existing library with a new annex, Wark added.

“Ownership makes things vastly smoother for our construction project,” Wark said.

University officials will meet with the city Landmarks Preservation Commission today to discuss the possible preservation of remaining ties and rails, which UWT had considered removing but may be historically significant.

Lewis Kamb: 253-597-8542
lewis.kamb@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/politics

The News Tribune - UWT’s historic Prairie Line railway property subject of tonight’s city landmarks meeting

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Jan. 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |

As we reported today, the City of Tacoma struck a deal yesterday with the University of Washington-Tacoma that will convey to the university ownership of a stretch of the old Prairie Line railway right-of-way that runs through UWT’s downtown campus.

UWT wanted the property, which had been committed to the city from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway under a separate deal, to help the university complete a library expansion project.

In exchange, UWT agreed to grant the city several easements to the property and to develop and maintain the stretch as part of the city’s planned Prairie Line Trail.

Abandoned in recent years as an operational rail line, the old Prairie Line is historically significant in that it was the route of the first Northern Pacific train to reach Puget Sound.

With aging rails and railroad ties of the defunct line still stretching across campus, UWT officials initially had planned to remove the railway relics so that they could create a construction staging area for their library expansion project. (They also need full ownership of the corridor to construct a sky bridge across it from their existing library to a soon-to-be built annex.)

But after conferring with local historic preservation consultant Michael Sullivan, university officials are having second thoughts.

“We’ve delayed the removal until further analysis,” Milt Tremblay, director of UWT’s facilities and campus services, told me after Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“We heard there could be some historical significance, and we didn’t want to make a decision that couldn’t be reversed.”

The cautious approach comes less than a year after the UW-T inadvertently washed away the beloved “Alt Heidelberg” ghost mural from the side of its Joy Building during renovation.

The UWT’s Prairie Line property will be discussed at the city Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting set for tonight at 5 p.m., in the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 728 St. Helens Ave., Room 16.

The News Tribune - UWT shows off one building, breaks ground on another

MIKE ARCHBOLD; Staff writer
Published: 03/16/11 3:44 am | Updated: 03/16/11 3:17 pm

University of Washington Tacoma officials, students and community members took time out Tuesday to look to the future of their campus.

The gathering, dubbed Foundations of Progress, marked the beginning of part of that future: the renovated Russell T. Joy Building on Pacific Avenue at South 17th Street.

Built as a warehouse in 1892, the building will open this spring with new classroom space and a new Academic Advising Center. The renovation cost $25.3 million.

Included in Tuesday’s event was the official groundbreaking of a $24 million, four-story building that will be connected to the library by sky bridge. The new building will tie into the historic Tioga Building at the top of the grand staircase on Jefferson Avenue.

It will expand the library and add more classrooms.

Preliminary plans for a new walking and biking path on campus as part of the city’s larger Prairie Line Trail were outlined.

An 80-foot-wide swath of property called the Hood Corridor dissects the campus on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s old right of way. Twenty feet of the property will be for the trail; the rest will be landscaped.

The final design of the 20-foot-wide trail from South 17th Street to 21st Street is still being developed, UW Tacoma spokesman Mike Wark said. Not yet determined, he said, is whether bicycles and pedestrians will be on separate trails or together on one.

“We also are talking about how to recognize the railway tracks and how much of the track we can retain as part of the trail,” he said.

Part of the trail and the corridor planning is for a memorial on the western edge of campus where the old Japanese Language School once stood. It was demolished several years ago because the building’s wood was contaminated with arsenic and lead.

Mike Archbold: 253-597-8692
mike.archbold@thenewstribune.com

Daily Journal of Commerce - Former rail line will become Hood Corridor at UW Tacoma

May 17, 2011
Former rail line will become Hood Corridor at UW Tacoma
By KATIE ZEMTSEFF
Journal Staff Reporter

The diagonal corridor is intended to unify the campus and eventually be part of the city’s Prairie Line Trail, through the historic Brewery District and down to the Thea Foss Waterway.

The University of Washington Tacoma is gearing up for a project that will transform the center of campus by turning an abandoned rail line into a pedestrian trail with plazas and gathering spaces.

Amocat Cafe - Amocat to Host Prairie Line Downtown Trail Community Info Session Coffee Hour May 25, 2011

Amocat Cafe - 625 St. Helens Ave, Tacoma, Wash - since 2010

May 24th, 2011 by Amocat Cafe

The public is invited to swing by Amocat Cafe to meet the design team selected by the City of Tacoma to create the Prairie Line Trail to be built right through downtown Tacoma!

The Prairie Line Trail, a $5.83 million rails-to-trails project to link major downtown Tacoma destinations via a pedestrian and bicycle path, is now underway.

The design team chosen to create a public art plan for the project, Todd Bressi and Thoughtbarn, will host an open discussion of the trail’s art component Wednesday, May 25, at the Amocat Café – complimentary pastries and coffee provided.

The half-mile, two-acre Prairie Line Trail is a historic rail corridor that runs through several landmark areas: the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the historic Brewery District, the Museum District and the Thea Foss Waterway. The project’s $30,000 public art budget is partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

“The Prairie Line Trail will be a vital component to our culturally vibrant downtown. The NEA’s support will insure that public art plays an instrumental role in defining the trail’s identity,” says Amy McBride, City of Tacoma Arts Administrator.

Todd Bressi and Thoughtbarn (the duo Lucy Begg and Robert Gay) were selected for the public art commission through a national competition.

Wednesday, May 25, 10am at Amocat

Space Works Tacoma -  Art and History Connect on the Prairie Line Trail

2 Jun 2011

Walk on the wild side (l to r): Todd Bressi, Lucy Begg, artist Elizabeth Conner and Robert Gay get the back story on Tacoma rail from historian Michael Sullivan.

Urban planner Todd Bressi and the design team of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay (Thoughtbarn) held a lively series of speaking engagements in Tacoma last week on the public art plan for the much-vaunted Prairie Line Trail (PLT). The trio met with staff from the City, University of Washington-Tacoma and Tacoma Art Museum; historic preservationists, downtown stakeholders, artists, cycling advocates and interested citizens about the trail’s potential to become a showcase for art and art experiences, as well as a magnet for civic activity. The design team was awarded a $30,000 commission, supported by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) planning grant, to develop an art proposal for the legacy trail which will link downtown Tacoma’s most significant cultural and historical sectors.

Unbeknownst to most Tacomans, the Prairie Line Trail is an extraordinary landmark of Tacoma history. In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad designated the now-overgrown, half-mile, two-acre corridor as the western terminus for its transcontinental railroad, beating out competitors Seattle, Olympia and Bellingham. Modern city-building and telegraph communications followed the railroad, and from here sprung the town’s moniker, “The City of Destiny.” The proposed $5.83 million walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District and Thea Foss Waterway, and eventually connects with the Water Ditch Trail. Users will be within walking distance of the convention center, the copper-domed Union Station, and the ethereal Museum of Glass Bridge – all destinations that radiate outward from the Tacoma Art Museum (currently awaiting a streetscaping and plaza/entrance redesign). By commissioning a public art plan, “We are developing a roadmap that’s considerate of art” and honors the city’s history, says City Art Administrator, Amy McBride. That may be an understatement: The Prairie Line Trail offers a ripping opportunity to create a history-infused active destination and outdoor art venue that is unique to Washington, and the country. The PLT will draw visitors to our historic downtown, where curated temporary and site-specific permanent art may greet trail users.

Thoughtbarn's iconic yellow wayfinding designs for the Lance Armstrong Bikeway (Austin).

According to Bressi, the mission of the public art planning team (who were selected from a national field of candidates) is to help develop creative alliances between the City, the University of Washington and other private and public interests “that transcend jurisdictional boundaries,” and to enjoin public process in such a way that community aspirations find context. The team will identify aesthetic issues and community goals, and integrate design teams, but they will not design the trail or select participating artists.

Bressi is an urban designer and planner who specializes in public art and cultural planning; he has taught public art, urban design and preservation classes at the University of Pennsylvania. His projects include the Legacy Trail in Lexington, KY, a 9-mile bikepath and interpretive trail from the inner city to horse country, with a “long-term goal [for] art to inhabit the landscape.” Gay and Begg are architects/artists; their multidisciplinary studio, Thoughtbarn, “champions the artful design of everyday spaces through buildings, urban strategies, public art installations, and furniture.” Thoughtbarn boasts outstanding creds in the area of bikeway projects: They co-designed (with Jack Sanders and Leah Davis) the solar-powered way-finding system for the Lance Armstrong Bikeway in their hometown of Austin, with inspiration gleaned from Armstrong’s bright yellow wristbands. Explaining how the group will work together, Bressi says they “expect to collaborate fully on developing the basic ideas behind the plan and the demonstration project [due in October]. I will be the lead in completing the plan. Robert and Lucy will be the lead in completing the art project.” The three have collaborated on projects before.

PEEKS (Denver). Thoughtbarn and Todd Bressi.

We asked Bressi via e-mail to talk about what drew the group to the Tacoma-based project:

“The first thing that attracted me to this project actually was that I had visited this area before and saw qualities in it, and in the public art, that I wanted to capture in my work.“I came to Tacoma some years ago, as a consultant working with GSA on the courthouse at Union Station. I had a chance to walk around this area of Tacoma, and what left the strongest impression on me was the public art. First it was little things: unique artworks that define the Theatre District. The playfully colored maritime artifacts along the Thea Foss Waterway. The way that sculpture creates a link between the material of the landscape and the material of the architecture at the Union Station courthouse and the state history museum. Then, of course, the contrast between Chihuly’s modern glass work and the historic architecture. The artwork that creates such a remarkable passage over the train tracks and the highway to the Museum of Glass – the boldness of putting this on a bridge!

“What’s interesting is that each of these groups of projects defines its place in a slightly different way. Cumulatively, they set the stage for an exploration of the city, a sequence of experiences. You know when you are moving from one place to another, like through rooms in a house. And as you move about the city, you realize you are interacting with the art in different ways. Sometimes it takes you by surprise. Sometimes it makes you smile. It lets you know where you are. And every once in awhile, it just takes your breath away. Not a bad standard for this project to live up to.

“When I assemble a [project] team I try to think about the qualities of the place where I am working as well as how I am going to address the specifics of the assignment. Fortunately, I had a good sense of what this trail corridor was like, and the interesting thing about the assignment was the desire to create an artwork as part of the planning process, with a small budget and little time. I wanted to work with Thoughtbarn because they are facile with materials, fabrication and installation, and because we had worked on a corridor project before. I thought they could do work that would respond to the materiality of the place as well as its scale, and had the capability to conceive and build a project within the time and money constraints….“There will be three things that will be very important to the success of this plan: it must be grounded in an understanding of the context of the place, it must embrace your aspirations for the trail, and it must point out a clear path to getting projects done. Usually what I find is that people are most passionate about making great places, places they can connect with, and if I can show them how public art can help accomplish that, they are very supportive.” 

The News Tribune  - Development plan would pave over history

PETER CALLAGHAN; STAFF WRITER

Last updated: June 14th, 2011 12:20 AM (PDT)

At what was otherwise a celebration came some disturbing news.

While welcoming a new tenant – the Children’s Museum – United Way President Rick Allen talked about a pending deal to purchase much of the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe right of way behind the Sprague Building. The idea is to pave over the land for parking, but it could eventually be combined with an existing parking lot for a development site.

Listening was Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello, who knew of those tracks not as surplus property for some future building but as the terminus of what the city hopes will be the Prairie Line Trail. BNSF has agreed to trade 20 feet of the right of way for a trail that will run from the Foss Waterway through the University of Washington Tacoma campus and south.

But the right of way can’t be a trail if it is a parking lot. And it certainly can’t be a trail if there’s a building there.

Shortly thereafter Mello also learned of the history of that particular right of way when Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell and former Tacoma historic preservation officer Michael Sullivan began spreading the word.

The rusting rails and overgrown right of way is where Abraham Lincoln’s dream of a second transcontinental railroad reached tidewater. Just days ahead of a deadline for completion, the Northern Pacific completed the link on Dec. 16, 1873, by rolling a construction train down to what is now the Moon Yard at the mouth of the Foss.

“By four o’clock the spike was firm, the speeches were over, and Tacoma was the western end of the transcontinental,” wrote historian Murray Morgan in “Puget’s Sound.”

It also is likely the last remaining terminal tracks of an American transcontinental railroad.

“The diagonal score of the Prairie Line that cuts across Tacoma’s south downtown hillside can be thought of as the stopped hand of a clock,” wrote Sullivan in a historical documentation of the line conducted for the UWT. “It precisely marks a very specific moment in the history of the northern transcontinental railroad and the development of the American far west.”

According to plans for the trail crafted by the City of Tacoma, the actual right of way would not be used on the east side of Pacific Avenue. Instead, the bike and pedestrian trail would cross over next to the Tacoma Art Museum and use the inner shoulder of Hood Street for the trail. That has been requested by the art museum to tie the trail more closely with its redesigned plaza.

(Some maps, photos and renderings are at http://bit.ly/Polibuzz.)

So rather than take its 20-feet trade down the center of the right of way where the historic tracks surely were laid, the city would take it on the far southeastern edge, closest to Hood Street. That would also allow the city and BNSF to firm up legal ownership of Hood.

Such an arrangement would then allow United Way to purchase the remaining 60 feet for $300,000 (from rental income from the Sprague Building, not donor money) and combine the land with its existing parking lot. Allen said that during better economic times he fielded calls from more than two dozen developers interested in such a property.

But it would require a one-eye-closed view of the history of the city and the railroad. It would place the end of the “Prairie Line” trail not on the “Prairie Line” but nearby. And it would allow most of the actual land to be buried, first under asphalt and perhaps in the distant future under a building.

At a recent Tacoma council committee meeting, Sullivan urged the city to abandon plans that would destroy the integrity and the actuality of the historic right of way.

“This is Tacoma’s first real estate,” Sullivan told council members. And it has been in one ownership for 138 years. “I’m alarmed the second use of that property will be a surface parking lot. I find that deeply disturbing.”

Sullivan suggested looking at the way the UWT is planning its segment. After purchasing the entire right of way, UWT will not build on any of it, instead having a trail while leaving the historic rails intact and in place.

The city section is even more significant than the UWT section because it is closer to, and within sight of, Lincoln’s objective – tidewater.

Finally, Sullivan rejected the notion of having the Prairie Line Trail on Hood Street and pretending it is historic.

“The Prairie Line is immutable. It is where it is … let’s use the historic ground.”

Allen said he didn’t understand the historic significance of the right of way until a recent visit with Farrell and Sullivan. And he said he has no interest in harming the historic nature of the right of way.

If it doesn’t make both historic and financial sense to have the trail on one edge and leave enough land for future development, then he will back away from the project, he said.

“If the only options are to asphalt it over or do nothing, then we’ll do nothing.”

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657

peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com  blog.thenewstribune.com/politics

The News Tribune - Prairie Line Trail: Here are some maps, photos and an artist’s rendering showing current conditions and at least one vision for the future

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on June 14, 2011 at 3:29 am

I write today about plans for the historic Prairie Line Trail and how some visions for downtown development get in the way (under the guise of helping).

Here are a few maps, renderings and photos that might help envision the site and what is currently planned.

This is a rendering done for the City of Tacoma by Olson Kundig Architects of what the trail might look like if it is located not on the railroad right of way but on the side of Hood Street next to the Tacoma Art Museum

Here is a City of Tacoma map showing the proposed alignment of the Prairie Line Trail. The UWT is at the upper left and the Foss Waterway at the lower edge.

This is my artsy cell phone picture of one of the rails running through the BNSF right of way with the United Way (Sprague) Building in the upper left hand 

One more view looking northwest. The United Way's current parking lot is to the left 

Same direction but taken closer to the corner of Hood and Pacific Avenue

The News Tribune - ‘Historic' trail loses unless it follows actual history

PETER CALLAGHAN; STAFF WRITER
Published: 07/07/11 12:05 am | Updated: 07/07/11 8:20 am

Maybe it’s a Northwesty, self-esteem thing.

Maybe we all feel better if there are no losers, sort of like grade school field day or the Fircrest City Council election.

Whatever the explanation, we seem to love win-win situations. In fact, the only thing better is the storied win-win-win situation.

But if Northwesterners love the win-win, Tacoma worships it. Like with the current plan to develop a new trail from the Foss Waterway through the University of Washington Tacoma campus and east to an eventual link with the Water Ditch Trail.

The “Prairie Line” is the final stretch of the historic Northern Pacific rail line that brought the second transcontinental railroad to tidewater. Without the Prairie Line, Tacoma isn’t Tacoma.

The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe agreed four years ago to trade 20 feet of the now-abandoned 80-foot right of way to the city in exchange for other considerations.

You might have assumed the 20 feet would be within the existing right of way, maybe right down the center. But city staff has been putting together a slightly different route.

Rather than draw up plans to build the end of the Prairie Line Trail over the actual terminal tracks, the staff plan is to shift it over to Hood Street, the diagonal road that runs from Pacific Avenue just north of the Tacoma Art Museum to 15th Street just east of the DaVita Building.

As well designed as such a trail on Hood Street might be, it is still a glorified bike lane. It does not compete for grading or grandeur with a trail down the center of the historic right of way.

Why move the trail? If the city has an offer of getting its 20 feet on the actual ground where the first locomotive reached the shoreline in 1873, why not take it there?

The win-win, of course.

The art museum is trying to redevelop the empty plaza in front of its Antoine Predock-designed building. It needs better connections to Pacific Avenue, the other museums, the rest of the neighborhood.

To that end, museum backers want the future trail to snuggle up to its proposed plaza redevelopment. They talk of “synergy” between trail users and the new plaza.

Then there’s United Way. If the city doesn’t infringe on the actual rail right of way behind the charity’s building, BNSF would be free to sell it to United Way. The charity could then use it to park staff cars in the short term but perhaps offer it to developers in the future.

But if this is the result, there’s still a loser. For its final run to tidewater, the Prairie Line Trail wouldn’t be on the actual Prairie Line. In order to satisfy these other desires, the city would trade actual history for faux history.

The issues are being raised by former city preservation officer Michael Sullivan and Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell. City staff members and museum director Stephanie Stebich now say the location and design of the trail haven’t been decided. And some City Council members are starting to pay attention to the potential loss of heritage.

This broader conversation is all for the good. Because as with some other so-called win-win situations (think the digital billboard deal with Clear Channel), the only winners are those who had a seat at the table when the deal was made.

A better solution is out there. Museum plaza redesign architects Olson Kundig are easily capable of a plan exciting enough to attract walkers and bikers even if the trail is 40 feet farther north.

And there are enough struggling developers in town without United Way entering that line of work. Besides, downtown seems to have a more-than-ample supply of building lots; it doesn’t need another at the expense of irreplaceable history.

The only way the city can have a Historic Prairie Line Trail is if it’s on the historic Prairie Line.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/politics

The News Tribune - TACOMA: Mind history with Prairie Line Trail

Letter by John S. Selby, Edgewood on July 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

Re: “‘Historic’ trail loses unless it follows actual history” (Peter Callaghan column, 7-7).

Hooray for Callaghan! He correctly saw that not everyone was represented in the so-called “win-win-win” plan for relocating the Prairie Line Trail.

If it is to preserve its history, the Prairie Line Trail needs to replace the Prairie Line tracks.

(Selby is a member of Tacoma Wheelmen and on the board of the Foothills Trail Coalition.)

The News Tribune - RAIL: Keep the Prairie Line on the Prairie Line

Letter by John Thurlow, Tacoma on July 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

So I’m reading Peter Callaghan’s July 7 column about the wheeling and dealing on the Prairie Line right of way, and thinking, “Geez, Louise, let’s get this right.”

The Prairie Line was indeed the second transcontinental termination, and the Northern Pacific’s final push to Puget Sound salt water in 1883 was finalized along this route. How can we even consider fooling around with the actual route for a trail marking its pioneering achievement? It would be like moving Promontory Summit (where the first transcontinental railroad was joined) from nowhere in the Utah sagebrush to a more convenient location in Salt Lake City.

Tacoma has a lot to be proud of and be interested in its history. Let’s not lose this one.

The News Tribune - Downtown Tacoma’s path to something special is clear

PETER CALLAGHAN; STAFF WRITER
Published: 07/26/11 12:05 am | Updated: 07/26/11 8:44 am

Let’s say it’s some clear and warm summer day in the near future, kind of like the one we enjoyed this past Sunday.

Downtown Tacoma’s new Prairie Line Park, a trapezoid of green with pedestrian and bike paths snaking among native grasses and water features, is being dedicated.

Next door is the renovated Tacoma Art Museum Plaza. Part of the space is covered by a lacy, ethereal structure that sheds rain but not light, helping frame what has been an undefined patch of ground.


Joe Barrentine staff photographer

Officials have a chance to do right by this grass-covered area between the United Way offices and the Tacoma Art Museum on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma.

Pacific Avenue is blocked off for the day, allowing celebrants to wander among the outdoor rooms, including Tollefson Plaza, the unfriendly hardscape that has always benefited from those rare days when it is filled with people.

Angling up the hill is the University of Washington Tacoma’s redeveloped stretch of the Prairie Line, the track that brought the Northern Pacific Railway to tidewater in 1873.

Even with a lingering recession, even with public funds harder to come by, this is a scene that is within reach.

The city got everything rolling in 2008. That’s when it traded with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe for 20 feet of the 80-foot-wide right of way from South 15th Street, through UWT and the Brewery District to South 25th Street.

TAM is well into its plaza redesign and fundraising. The UWT has already acquired the remaining right of way through campus and hired design consultants to plan that section.

The project is well-positioned in the competition for federal and state grants. Local governments are rewarded for projects that among other benefits accommodate walkers and bikers, that acquire scenic easements and historic sites, that provide for environmental mitigation, that preserve abandoned rail corridors.

“It is hard to find a project that checks so many boxes,” said Diane Wiatr, the city’s mobility coordinator. Tacoma has already scored a $465,000 federal grant to plan for and design its sections of the trail.

Yet this scenario is contradicted by another. Earlier this month at a meeting of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, United Way President Rick Allen described his plans to acquire the Prairie Line right of way between Pacific Avenue and South 15th Street.

The agency would use it to expand its surface parking lot along Pacific and hopes to make the combined property available to some future developer. Historic markers would be placed in the area to tell the story of the completion of the Northern Pacific, Allen said.

This proposal would require the city to take its 20-foot corridor not down the historic center of the right of way but over on what is now Hood Street, combining a roadway with a separated bike lane that would hug the edge of the art museum.

“If United Way can’t participate, then nothing will happen for a long time with that property except what’s happened to it for the last 10 years, which is to have grass and weeds grow over the whole thing,” Allen said.

Wiatr disagreed.

“I believe there is desire in the community. I believe there is desire on the council,” Wiatr said. “I am not usually a positive person, but I believe if the city owned the property, I would say within five years there would be a trail.”

And museum director Stephanie Stebich said her plaza redesign will be finished in two years.

Former city historic preservation officer Michael Sullivan made the case for thinking big.

“Do we want to see this go into the built part of the urban fabric or do we want to see open space?” he asked. “This is probably the most important and largest piece of open space we have in the downtown, with a real sense of purpose and destination and a real rich story.

“Let’s go for the whole thing,” he suggested.

He’s right. Opportunities to transform a central city and develop the gathering space downtown that Tacoma has always lacked don’t come around very often. This one is 140 years in the making.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/politics

UW Tacoma Ledger - Downtown Tacoma Gets A Facelift

By Kimberly Swetland
Editor-In-Chief
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011 15:08

Construction projects on or near campus are changing the appearance of our city, some more noticeably than others.

Campus Projects

Hood Corridor Project

Proposed future trail site. Photo by Anthony Vierra / PHOTO EDITOR



Photo by Kimberly Swetland / EDITOR

UWT made a deal with Tacoma City Council this last January giving the University possession of the railway bisecting campus. In exchange, the University agreed to offer public access to the Prairie Line Trail that will run through campus between South 17th and South 21st streets. The new trail will be designed by officials from both the city and UWT. By fall of 2012 the south section of the trail should be completed. This project will be similar to the "rails-to-trails" project that runs through Orting, and is the start of a grander plan to create a city network of pathways for public use. The cost of the project to connect South 25th to Dock Street is estimated at $5.7 million.

Thoughtbarn - On the Boards Tacoma Prairie Line Trail Artificial Landscapes

25 Aug 2011

Prairie Line Trail / Public Art Master Plan and Temporary Art Project: Tacoma, Washington.

The Prairie Line Trail is an ambitious rails-to-trails project of the City of Tacoma, WA. The disused rail track, the final leg of the first northern transcontinental railroad, cuts diagonally across downtown to the waterfront and is slated for transformation into a pedestrian and bike artery.

Thoughtbarn was selected from a national call for artists with urban planner Todd Bressi to develop a public art masterplan and temporary demonstration project for the Prairie Line. Our goal is to outline a compelling role for art in the development of the trail and a framework for its implementation. How can public art enhance the identity, history and experience of this rich piece of Tacoma’s story?

One of the most interesting parts is the number of people and organizations who are invested in the project. The trail cuts through the University of Washington’s campus, the Tacoma Art Museum plaza, the historic Brewery District and land recently purchased by United Way. In our first visit to Tacoma (in May) we met with city planners, curators, university officials, historians, bike activists, local business owners and artists, all of whom feel passionately about its transformative potential.

Our demonstration project will be the first manifestation of public art along the Prairie Line, well before construction of the trail actually begins. We see it as an opportunity to raise awareness of both the past and future of the railroad. Many residents know little about either.

We’ve been developing a concept around the idea of an ‘artificial prairie’. We’re imagining a series of undulating landscape forms that occupy the space between the rails at points along the mile-long trail. The cardboard structures will be topped with ‘fields’ of colored zip ties, creating a grass-like effect. From afar they will act as colorful markers along the trail, up close they will offer a tactile experience for curious pedestrians and a playful connection to the native prairie landscapes the railroad was built across.

We’ll be returning to Tacoma in mid-September to present our idea and figure out the logistics. Read more about the project and trail’s history on the Spaceworks Tacoma blog

Weekly Volcano - PA:ID gets displayed

Public artwork on the Prairie Line Trail and beyond

By Kristin Kendle on September 7, 2011

(L to R) Todd Bressi and Lucy Begg of Thoughtbarn, PA:ID instructor Elizabeth Conner, Robert Gay and Tacoma historian Michael Sullivan Photo courtesy Lisa Kinoshita

The Tacoma arts scene is always on the move - sometimes in ways you might not expect. Currently, a program called Public Art In Depth (PA:ID) is kicking up its heels, training a fleet of new public artists. Starting this fall, the PA:ID team will showcase artwork along an under-known facet of Tacoma - the Prairie Line trail.

PA:ID - an effort created and powered by the City of Tacoma - trains selected public artists for free via workshops, trips, hands-on experiences and mentorship. Throughout 2011 and 2012, there will be several projects available exclusively to PA:ID students, including projects for Artscapes, Metro Parks and Sound Transit. PA:ID is just another step Tacoma has taken to support local artists and provide opportunities.

"What we are doing is investing in artists who have accomplished a level of success in their studio work to teach them intensively about public art - what it is, what it entails, how one has to not only be a good artist, but also think about the site, the community, get projects engineered, and get permits," says Amy McBride, Tacoma Arts Administrator.

While PA:ID is just getting warmed up, the students - all selected after an application process based on their previous work - are already learning a lot about the nature of the business of public art.

"We've created mock proposals and discussed them, shared our own work and work that inspires us, and heard from guest speakers about engineering, permitting, and applying for public art opportunities," says student Holly Senn.

Teacher and facilitator Elizabeth Conner developed the curriculum and has taught four sessions so far. "The program has reinforced my respect for artists living and working in Tacoma," she says. "The artists in this program are creative, resourceful, and respectful of each other's work. Their relationship with city staff is exceptionally collaborative, energetic and supportive."

The Prairie Line Trail will be heavily intertwined with PA:ID from the start. Prairie Line was once the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, today running through the University of Washington-Tacoma campus and other areas around downtown. This stretch of land has largely been forgotten in modern times, but there's a facelift in its future - a walking and biking interpretive trail headed up by design studio Thoughtbarn, made up of Lucy Begg, Robert Gay and Todd Bressi.

"One of the initial recommendations of the public art plan is to activate the space with temporary use in order to start making people aware of the space and the land and the connections," says McBride. "So we are going to have a series of temporary installations along the trail."

While the students of PA:ID will create pieces for the Prairie Line Trail, Thoughtbarn will oversee the planning of the project and create a signature piece of artwork for the trail. So far exactly what Thoughtbarn will do has not been let out of the bag.

"Our demonstration project will be one of the first examples of public art along the Prairie Line. Interestingly, it will happen before design or construction of the trail actually begins," says Begg. "In this way we see it as a great opportunity to raise awareness of future plans for the railroad, as well as of its intriguing past."

Prairie Line Trail artwork is scheduled go up by Nov 12 - a date when there will be a walking tour of the trail with artists in attendance. The artwork will be up for about two to four weeks.

UW Tacoma - Open house seeks input on Hood Corridor project

October 17, 2011

Members of the University of Washington Tacoma community are welcome to contribute ideas for the Hood Corridor outdoor project at an open house Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The project will develop the former BNSF (Burlington Northern and Santa Fe) Railway right-of-way that cuts through campus. 

At the open house, the architectural firms Atelier Dreiseitl + SRG Partnership Inc. will showcase some of the possible ideas for the Hood Corridor in an interactive display.

Initial concepts include green space, storm water management systems and improved wheelchair, pedestrian and bicycle access. 

Once developed, the corridor is planned to connect with the larger Prairie Line Trail that will eventually run through downtown Tacoma. The campus portion will include a plaza and a memorial commemorating the former Japanese Language School.

The first phase of construction is slated to begin next summer.

Students, staff and members of the public who are interested in UW Tacoma are encouraged to share their thoughts during the open house. 

The open house will be 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Joy Building lobby on campus. Light snacks will be provided. 

Visitors are encouraged to RSVP by going to www.facebook.com/HoodCorridorDevelopment or by e-mailing Gina M. Fernandes, campus planning coordinator, at ginamf@uw.edu.

Media contact: 
Debby Abe, Communication Services, 253-692-4536, debbyabe@uw.e

BIA - Business Improvement Area - Tonight: Hood Street Corridor Open House

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tonight, the University of Washington, Tacoma is hosting an open house on the future development of the Hood Corridor. The Corridor runs through the middle of the UWT campus with direct ties into the surrounding community. To ensure future connections between the campus and the community a strong and inviting pathway is critical.

The architectural firms Atelier Dreiseitly + SRG Partnership will showcase some of the unique features of the Hood Corridor in an interactive display. Visit the Joy Building Lobby any time from 3PM to 7PM to share your thoughts on the project. 

Hood Corridor Open House
10/18 @ 3PM-7PM (anytime)
1700 Block of Pacific Avenue

UW Tacoma - Hood Corridor Open House garners input

The Ledger
By By Eva Revear
Staff Reporter
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 14:10

Extensive changes are coming to space occupied by the historic Prairie Line railway that cuts through campus. Back in January of this year, the City of Tacoma made a deal with University of Washington Tacoma to convey UWT ownership of the stretch of railway right-of-way that runs through campus. The railway is historically significant because it was the first route of the Northern Pacific to reach Puget Sound. On October 18th, Architectural firms Atelier Dreiseitl and SRG Partnership Inc. held an open house to gain campus insights into how the property should be developed.

According to Ysabel Trinidad, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, since the university purchased all of the line that runs through campus, the first concern was safety for those who use the area. Now, however the school is looking to turn the Hood Corridor into a space that can better serve the needs of students.

Elliot Barnett, from City of Tacoma Urban Planning, explained that the university is ahead of the city in a project that will someday expand across the state reaching as far as Mount Rainier with bicycling and walking trails. The segment of the Prairie Line trail on the UWT campus will become part of this future system of trails.

Eric Bode, a landscape architect from Atelier Dreiseitl, said that they are "deliberately not designing yet… Students, this is your campus, we really want to hear from you."That was the intent behind holding the open house. Through interactive charts and maps, the project planners gathered data from students about what they would like to see happen in the space.

"Places to sit," was one student‘s request, "especially in the rain, and something to look at."Other popular items were performing arts spaces, coffee shops, weather appropriate gathering places, and edible gardens. The University landscaping architect is also hoping to include a rain garden in the project that will use structures like waterfalls or specific plants to clean the sediments from the rainwater as it flows through campus.

Ultimately, however, the university wants to hear more input from campus as it makes plans for the Hood Corridor. Keep your eye out for other Hood Corridor Project events like this one, throughout the winter and spring quarters.

University of Washington Tacoma - Prairie Line Trail - UW Tacoma Station - History of the Prairie Line and Project Overview

<About 11 09 2011>

Building the Railroad

In 1864 President Lincoln signed legislation which chartered the Northern Pacific (NP) Railroad to complete connect mid-west, Washington, and Oregon. The NP was built by Chinese contract laborers and faced a variety of fiscal and time constraints. Completed in 1873, Tacoma became the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad that linked the Great Lakes to the Puget Sound. Lines of the Northern Pacific included the Prairie Line, a stretch of track spanning Tacoma, Washington and Tenino, Washington. The name refers to the “burnt prairie” route across the Nisqually Delta from Tenino.

The Prairie Line

The Prairie Line became a development trunk for the growth of Tacoma, sprouting rail sidings to serve industrial and shipping facilities in what is now the warehouse and brewery district, including UW Tacoma. In 1885 a major fire devastated downtown Tacoma, prompting the first building codes, which called for brick and stone permanent structures. The area has been a constantly changing web of rail spurs and sidings served by brick warehouses, loading docks and freight yards that gave form to these districts. As additional railroad companies laid down tracks and the NP merged with other railroads to form the Burlington Northern Railroad, the Prairie Line’s usefulness began to disappear, culminating with the closure of the line in 2003.

Finding the Prairie Line Today

The first passenger depot was located on the Milgard property. The depot was physically moved in 1892 to the site of what is now Union Station. Many of the dock spaces found along the corridor are actual rail sidings for loading and freight car access to buildings/cranes. The corridor through the UW Tacoma campus was primarily fronted by cabins, modest hotels/rooms for rent, and small dwellings, as well as coal and wood bunkers.

Prairie Line Trail - Project Overview

University of Washington Tacoma Prairie Line Trail - UW Tacoma Station seeks to redevelop the portion of the Prairie Rail Line that runs through the civic heart of the Campus into an active, open space for the community, while responding to the historical significance of the railroad terminus and the industrial past surrounding the tracks. The Project provides a unique opportunity for UW Tacoma to psychically connect with the City of Tacoma while enhancing open space on Campus. UW Tacoma looks forward to community collaboration on this Project over the next year.

BIA - Business Improvement Area - Prairie Line Trail Public Art Tour

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This Saturday, November 12, 2011, at 2PM the Tacoma Arts Commission will be leading a 90-minute tour of the Prairie Line Trail. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the significance and future of the Trail while enjoying a series of public art interventions.

Before the Prairie Line Trail followed Hood Street as it does today, it was the western terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad's transcontinental line (beating out other notable northwest cities). Today the City is discussing how to best retain this piece of history while integrating it with modern uses. In addition, the City is looking at ways to build a non-motorized trail connecting the Water Ditch Trail (coming in from South Tacoma) through south downtown to and onto the Thea Foss Waterway.

City of Tacoma - Press Release - Historic Prairie Line Trail unveils series of temporary art installations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2011

MEDIA CONTACTS

Amy McBride, Community and Economic Development, amcbride@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5192
Karrie Spitzer, Community Relations, karrie.spitzer@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5790

The Prairie Line Trail will get a facelift this month (November 2011), thanks to a unique partnership between the Tacoma Arts Commission and the University of Washington-Tacoma. The historic trail, which traverses downtown from South 25th Street to the waterfront, will be accentuated by Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line, an exhibition of eight temporary public artworks from Nov. 12 through Nov. 30, 2011.

Installations will begin at the University of Washington-Tacoma campus and end at 15th and Dock streets. “Be on the lookout for a number of playful, interactive artworks along the Prairie Line Trail,” says Arts Administrator Amy McBride, “This trail is going to change Tacoma for the better, creating a much-needed pedestrian and bike connection between downtown and the water. The works presented in Temporal Terminus are just a glimpse of the incredible potential of the trail.

”The exhibition will feature sculptural work by national design team, Thoughtbarn, composed of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay. There will also be work created by teams of Tacoma artists Jennifer Renee Adams, Kyle Dillehay, Kristin Giordano, Jeremy N. Gregory, Diane Hansen, Christopher Jordan, Lance Kagey, Lisa Kinoshita, Ed Kroupa, Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Maria Olga Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Chandler O'Leary, Elise Richman, Claudia Riedener, Holly A. Senn, Chris Sharp, James Grayson Sinding and Kenji Stoll.

Meet the artists during a free guided tour of the exhibition on Nov. 12. The tour will leave from Tollefson Plaza (17th and Pacific Avenue) at 2 p.m. Afterwards, tour-goers are invited to enjoy hot tea and sweet treats for a “warm up” reception in Thoughtbarn’s temporary studio provided by the University of Washington-Tacoma located at 1720 Pacific Ave. in the newly renovated JOY building.

The Prairie Line Trail is historically significant as the west coast terminus of the transcontinental railroad. The former BNSF Railway travels through the Brewery District, University of Washington-Tacoma campus, past the Tacoma Art Museum, and down to the Thea Foss Waterway – strengthening an important connection between downtown and the waterfront. In March, Thoughtbarn, along with urban planner Todd Bressi, were commissioned to complete a demonstration project and public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail in anticipation of new development by the City of Tacoma and the University of Washington-Tacoma.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

###

University of Washington Tacoma - Public art to mark the Prairie Line Trail through UW Tacoma

November 10, 2011

Take a free guided tour of “Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line” this Saturday, November 12. The tour starts at 2 p.m. at Tollefson Plaza, S. 17th Street and Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Hear from the exhibit artists and see the eight installations that start at UW Tacoma and end at 15th and Dock streets. After the tour, enjoy tea and treats at a reception in Thoughtbarn’s temporary studio in the UW Tacoma’s Joy Building, 1720 Pacific Ave.

Temporal Terminus will only be on display till Nov. 30.

Temporal Terminus includes work by national design team, Thoughtbarn, composed of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay. Terminus also features work created by teams of Tacoma artists: Jennifer Renee Adams, Kyle Dillehay, Kristin Giordano, Jeremy N. Gregory, Diane Hansen, Christopher Jordan, Lance Kagey, Lisa Kinoshita, Ed Kroupa, Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Maria Olga Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Chandler O'Leary, Elise Richman, Claudia Riedener, Holly A. Senn, Chris Sharp, James Grayson Sinding and Kenji Stoll.

Media contact: 
Debby Abe, Communication Services, 253-692-4536, debbyabe@uw.edu

TacomaArts.Wordpress.com - Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line

Nov 10, 2011

If you’ve been keeping track of the progress of Thoughtbarn on the public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail, you’ll be excited to learn more about the other temporary installations along the trail. Don’t forget about your chance to see them in person and hear from the artists! This Saturday, we’ll be holding a free public art walking tour that will explore all eight installations – collectively known as Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line.

In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad fulfilled Abraham Lincoln’s dream that the transcontinental railroad reach saltwater. This historic achievement occurred right here in Tacoma, where water would have first been spotted by railroad workers at about 17th and Pacific Avenue. Trains were still running on the tracks through the University of Washington campus and downtown Tacoma up until 2003.

Now the historic line is undergoing a new transformation. The proposed $5.83 million walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District, Thea Foss Waterway and eventually will connect with the Water Ditch Trail and South Tacoma.

Come celebrate this transformation of the Trail from railway to linear park. Along with Thoughtbarn, seven artist teams created from our PA:ID program have created site-responsive works, and they’ll be in attendance on Saturday to explain more about their installations. But for now, here are some interesting tidbits about each piece! You can also view the CommunityWalk map, which will show the location of each piece.

SITE 1: Dock Street Grassy Area
Title: Zero Down
Artists: Chris Jordan, Chandler O’Leary, Claudia Riedener

From a series of ‘footprints’ that occupy the grassy area, colorful shadows extend. The images are rendered in temporary paint and continued in chalk, the forms span the grass and onto the concrete morphing into forms human and imagined. Each brightly colored shadow represents the diversity and complexities of humans’ personalities.

SITE 2: 15th Street Overpass
Title: TACOMABALL
Artists: Kyle Dillehay, Lisa Kinoshita, Oliver Doriss

The curve of this overpass is the inspiration for TACOMABALL, a monumental, temporarily interactive pinball-style game will come to life during the Prairie Line Trail tour. Balls will be bowled down the curve interacting with various obstacles depicting various national and local icons. Racing stripes and imagery reminiscent of the game will remain on the ramp (assuming nature cooperates) through the course of the exhibit making every pedestrian a player in the game.

SITE 3: Under I-705
Title: Wild Wilderness
Artists: Jennifer Adams, Kristin Giordano, Kenji Stoll

This work comments on the diminishing open spaces in our world and the impact on animal habitat. In addition, it calls attention to the wild spaces that exist within our urban midst. A variety of animals that would be hard pressed to co-exist inhabit this newly created environment.

SITE 4: Hood Street
Title: Rogue Rhizomes
Artists: Chris Sharp, Lance Kagey, James Sinding

This section of the Prairie Line Trail is a ragged remnant of an industrial heritage that has witnessed dynamic transformation all around, while remaining itself, virtually unchanged over the last 100 years. The fringes of this space are a competition between structured plantings and wildness trying to reinsert itself into the landscape. This installation explores the rogue elements of organic invasiveness, between city and wildness. Using brightly colored markers and a three-dimensional letterform the eye is drawn from a distance and evoke ideas of giant flora. Organic patterns around the base of each light pole emanate outwards over time making use of positive and negative space and ‘invade’ the surrounding area.

SITE 5: Tollefson Plaza
Title: Link
Artists: Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Holly Senn

Link makes visible the connection between the rail lines and highlights how the Prairie Line Trail linked Tacoma to the communities of Tenino, McIntosh, Wetico, Rainier, Yelm, Roy, Hillhurst, Lakeview, and South Tacoma. Floating yellow orbs, iconic of the yellow and black railroad signs will re-enact the stops along the line that connected with these communities.

SITE 6: UW-T Campus
Title: Ghost Prairie
Artists: Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg & Robert Gay)

Thoughtbarn’s installation speaks to the railroad line’s namesake. Inspired by the mysterious Mima mounds in Thurston County, and the plight of the diminishing prairie, this public art installation introduces a piece of ‘artificial prairie’ along the rails of the Prairie Line Trail in downtown Tacoma. It is a playful referral to both the railroad’s history and its new landscape-driven future as a bike and pedestrian path through the city. For its duration the colorful, intriguing object(s) will catch the eye of local pedestrians and drivers. They will draw attention to the oft-overlooked railroad which nonetheless defines Tacoma’s history. Those most curious can get up close to run their hands along the ‘grasses’, which will also glow at night.

SITE 7: UW-T Pedestrian Bridge
Title: Envision
Artists: Jeremy Gregory, Diane Hansen, Ed Kroupa

Gigantic eyes look down on the campus from the pedestrian bridge. Are they benevolent? Visionary? Judging? That depends. The eyes are those of Abraham Lincoln, the visionary whose dream it was to complete a transcontinental rail that would meet the Pacific. Is he overlooking his accomplishment or wondering about this particular route’s demise and our crazy modern lives? Walking over the ped bridge, one experiences a different viewpoint and inspiration for the endurance of vision.

SITE 8: Grassy area by UW-T
Title: Manifest Destiny
Artists: Maria Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Elise Richman

Manifest Destiny was a phrase that justified the territorial expansion of the United States as if it were a divine sanction. A series of markers reminiscent of the Northern Pacific Railroad signs act as a historical timeline of Tacoma, starting in 1870, three years before Tacoma was designated as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad. A stepping stone begins the journey and the subsequent signs track the growing population of the city over 140 years at intervals that represent the largest jumps in population.

* * * * *

Dress for the weather and wear comfy shoes – the total walking distance is under two miles. Afterwards, warm up with some hot tea and other treats while you get to know the artists a little better. Can’t make it on Saturday? Not to worry – Temporal Terminus will be on display through the end of November (but you’ll miss out on the tea and cookies).

This project is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is done in partnership with the University of Washington-Tacoma.



The News Tribune - There’s public art, free art, farmer’s soups, Disney on Ice and more happenings this weekend

Post by Mary Anderson / The News Tribune

Nov. 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

Kristin Giordano of Tacoma photographs a "gorilla" hiding in the bushes by Hood Street in downtown Tacoma. The black-and-white print of it and several other animals is an art installation called "Charismatic Megafauna" and was made by her, Jennifer Adams and Kenji Stoll. It is one of eight temporary public art projects that comprise "Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line" which will be on display this weekend through the end of November along the half-mile landmark trail, which marks the terminus of the 19th-century Transcontinenal Railroad.

Peter Haley, staff photographer

Today
Prairie Line Trail Public Art Tour Learn about the significance and future of the Prairie Line Trail while enjoying a series of temporary public art, 2 p.m. Nov. 12, Tollefson Plaza, Pacific Avenue and South 17th Street, Tacoma. Free. 253-591-5191, artatworktacoma.com.


Community Art Day Featuring workshops, demonstrations and family fun, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 12, Tacoma Art Place, 1116 S. 11th St., Tacoma. Free. tacomaartplace.org.

Farm-to-Table Soup at Proctor Farmers’ Market Soup crafted by local Proctor district chefs with seasonal produce and meat grown by local farmers, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 12, Proctor Farmers Market, North 27th Street and North Proctor Street, Tacoma. $3 per bowl. 253-961-3666

Winter Psychic Fair 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 12, Meeker Mansion, 312 Spring St., Puyallup. $5. 253-848-1770, meekermansion.org.

Today and Sunday

Disney On Ice: Toy Story 3 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Showare Center, 625 W. James St., Kent.

Gem Faire Noon-6 p.m. Nov. 11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 13, Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma. $7.

Mount Rainier National Park Free entrance days, Nov. 11-13, Mount Rainier National Park, 55210 238th Ave. E., Ashford. Free.

Sunday

Richard D. Moe Organ Recital Series: Mark Brombaugh, Guest Organist 3 p.m. Nov. 13, Lagerquist Concert Hall, Mary Baker Russell Music Building, 124th Street South and 10th Avenue South, Tacoma. Tickets: $15, $10 seniors, $5 PLU community and alumni, free for ages 18 and younger. 253-535-7787.

A Hungarian Rhapsody 3 p.m. Nov. 13, Rialto Theater, 310 S. Ninth St., Tacoma. $6-$17. 253-627-2792, www.broadwaycenter.org

Pianist William Doppmann, Second City Chamber Series 4 p.m. Nov. 13, First Lutheran Church, 524 S. I St., Tacoma. $20 general/senior; $10 students; 18 and younger free. 253-572-8863, www.scchamberseries.org.

Puget Sound Youth Wind Ensemble Fall Concert kickoff of eighth season, 7-9 p.m. Nov. 13, Schneebeck Concert Hall, North 14th Street and Union Avenue Parking Lot, Tacoma. $8 for adults; $4 for students – tickets at the door. 253-370-8806, www.psywe.org.

Jazz LIVE at Marine View featuring Pearl Django with special guest vocalist Greta Matassa 5-7 p.m. Nov. 13, Marine View Church, 8469 Eastside Drive N.E., Tacoma. Admission free to all ages. 253-229-9206, www.marineviewpc.org.

The Weekly Volcano - "Temporal Terminus" opens on a rainy Tacoma day
November 13, 2011 at 12:23pm
By Ron Swarner

Tacoma Arts Commission Arts Administrator Amy McBride and artist Chris Sharp struggle with the crappy megaphone.

Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line - an awesome temporary public art exhibit that celebrates the important transformation of the Prairie Line Trail from rail to linear park - opened Saturday, Nov. 12 in downtown Tacoma. On the rainy opening afternoon, the Tacoma Arts Commission, staff from the University of Washington-Tacoma and the artist teams behind the eight installations guided approximately 60 people through the outdoor exhibition, which traverses downtown from South 25th Street to the Thea Foss Waterway.

The exhibition features amazing sculptural work by Austin-based national design team, Thoughtbarn (composed of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay), as well as a who's who from the Tacoma arts scene: Jennifer Renee Adams, Kyle Dillehay, Kristin Giordano, Jeremy N. Gregory, Diane Hansen, Christopher Jordan, Lance Kagey, Lisa Kinoshita, Ed Kroupa, Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Maria Olga Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Chandler O'Leary, Elise Richman, Claudia Riedener, Holly A. Senn, Chris Sharp, James Grayson Sinding and Kenji Stoll.

The City of Tacoma received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to give the historic rail line a facelift, shining an artistic light on the line the Northern Pacific Railroad built in 1873. Temporal Terminus - in partnership with the City of Tacoma's PA:ID (Public Art In Depth) multi-faceted program and the University of Washington-Tacoma - is the inaugural installation, with Philadelphia-based award-winning urban designer Todd Bressi and the team Thoughtbarn wearing the conductor hats. Up until 2003, trains pounded the historic rail corridor from the Thea Foss Waterway to the Brewery District, passing rickety warehouses and dens of iniquity before UW-Tacoma rang the school bell. Today, feet and bikes traverse the line, passing installations titled TacomaBall, Rogue Rhizomes and Ghost Prairie. When all said and done, some $5.83 million will be pumped into the half-mile Prairie Trail Line, creating a living and breathing interpretive trail connecting the waterfront with downtown Tacoma, which will also include a storm water purification system for the polluted runoff from Hilltop.

Below are a few photos of Temporal Terminus I snapped during yesterday's rainy afternoon tour. Due to the City of Tacoma's budget cuts to the Megaphone Department, and my frozen hands, I'm forced to add descriptive paragraphs written by the Tacoma Arts Commission. I have no idea what McBirde and the artist said through that crappy megaphone.

Dock Street: Zero Down
From a series of "footprints" that occupy the grassy area, colorful shadows extend. The images are rendered in temporary paint and continued in chalk; the forms span the grass and onto the concrete morphing into forms human and imagined. Each brightly colored shadow represents the diversity and complexities of humans' personalities. Artists: Chris Jordan, Chandler O'Leary, Claudia Riedener

15th Street Overpass: TacomaBall
The curve of this overpass is the inspiration for TacomaBall, a monumental, temporarily interactive pinball style game. Balls are bowled down the curve interacting with various obstacles depicting various national and local icons. Racing stripes and imagery reminiscent of the game will remain on the ramp through the course of the exhibit making every pedestrian a player in the game. Artists: Kyle Dillehay, Lisa Kinoshita

Under I-705: Wild Wilderness
This work comments on the diminishing open spaces in our world and that impact on animal habitat. In addition, it calls attention to the wild spaces that exist within our urban midst. A variety of animals that would be hard pressed to co-exist inhabit this newly created environment. Artists: Jennifer Adams, Kristin Giordano, Kenji Stoll

Hood Street: Rogue Rhizomes
This section of the Prairie Line Trail is a ragged remnant of an industrial heritage that has witnessed dynamic transformation all around, while remaining itself, virtually unchanged over the last 100 years. The fringes of this space are a competition between structured plantings and wildness trying to reinsert itself into the landscape. This installation explores the rogue elements of organic invasiveness, between city and wildness. Using brightly colored markers and a three-dimensional letterform the eye is drawn from a distance and evoke ideas of giant flora. Organic patterns around the base of each light pole emanate outwards over time making use of positive and negative space and ‘invade' the surrounding area. Artists: Chris Sharp, Lance Kagey, James Sinding

Tollefson: Link
"Link" makes visible the connection between the rail lines and highlights how the Prairie Line Trail linked Tacoma to the communities of Tenino, McIntosh, Wetico, Rainier, Yelm, Roy, Hillhurst, Lakeview, and South Tacoma. Floating yellow orbs, iconic of the yellow and black railroad signs will re-enact the stops along the line that connected with these communities. Artists: Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Holly Senn

UW-T Campus: Ghost Prairie
Thoughtbarn installation speaks to the railroad line's namesake. Inspired by the mysterious Mima mounds located in southern Washington and the plight of the prairie, our public art installation introduces a piece of ‘artificial prairie' along the rails of the Prairie Line Trail in downtown Tacoma. It is a playful referral to both the railroad's history and its new landscape-driven future as a bike and pedestrian path through the city. For its duration the colorful, intriguing object(s) will catch the eye of local pedestrians and drivers. They will draw attention to the oft-overlooked railroad that nonetheless defines Tacoma's history. Those most curious can get up close to run their hands along the "grasses," which will also glow at night. Artists: Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg, Robert Gay) with help from Tacoma School of the Arts students

UW-T Pedestrian Bridge: Envision
Gigantic eyes look down on the campus from the pedestrian bridge. Are they benevolent? Visionary? Judging? That depends. The eyes are those of Abraham Lincoln, the visionary whose dream it was to complete a transcontinental rail that would meet the Pacific. Is he overlooking his accomplishment or wondering about this particular routes demise and our crazy modern lives? Walking over the ped bridge, one experiences a different viewpoint and inspiration for the endurance of vision. Artists: Jeremy Gregory, Diane Hansen, Ed Kroupa

UW-T Grassy Areas: Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was a phrase that justified the territorial expansion of the United States as if it were a divine sanction. A series of markers reminiscent of the Northern Pacific Railroad signs act as a historical timeline of Tacoma, starting in 1870, three years before Tacoma was designated as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad. A stepping-stone begins the journey and the subsequent signs track the growing population of the city over 140 years at intervals that represent the largest jumps in population. Artists: Maria Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Elise Richman.

Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line temporary public art exhibit will dot the downtown Tacoma landscape through Nov. 30, 2011.

Tacoma Arts - Walking the Walk on the Prairie Line Trail

13 Nov 2011

On Saturday, glowering skies drenched the opening of Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line, an exhibit of temporary art installations sited along the Prairie Line Trail. The deluge did not scare off the large crowd who turned out for a guided tour of the art works starting at Tollefson Plaza, winding down to the Tacoma Art Museum and Thea Foss Waterway, continuing along the esplanade by the Museum of Glass, and back up to the University of Washington-Tacoma. Rain or no rain, it was a great opportunity to see how this half-mile, $5.83 million legacy trail – the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad, completed during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency – will link up Tacoma’s major cultural attractions.

The rain started on Friday as the eight teams of artists commissioned to create art for the pedestrian/bike trail project now underway began installing their works. It became an all-out battle of humans vs. nature as the weekend progressed. By the time the tour began on Saturday, well-wishers had girded themselves with umbrellas, raingear and high spirits to view the temporary installations along the trail. Here’s a glimpse of the eight new public art works on view through Nov. 26.

UW-T Campus
Title: Ghost Prairie
Artists: Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg & Robert Gay)

Thoughtbarn’s installation speaks to the railroad line’s namesake. Inspired by the mysterious Mima mounds in Thurston County, and the plight of the diminishing prairie, this installation introduces a piece of ‘artificial prairie’ along the rails running through the UW-T campus. It is a playful referral to both the railroad’s history and its new landscape-driven future as a bike and pedestrian path through the city. For its duration the colorful, intriguing object will catch the eye of local pedestrians and drivers. Those most curious can get up close to run their hands along the ‘grasses’, which also glow at night.

UW-T Pedestrian Bridge
Title: Envision
Artists: Jeremy Gregory, Diane Hansen, Ed Kroupa

Gigantic eyes look down on the campus from the pedestrian bridge. Are they benevolent? Visionary? Judging? That depends. The eyes are those of Abraham Lincoln, the visionary whose dream it was to complete a transcontinental rail that would meet the Pacific. Is he overlooking his accomplishment or wondering about this particular route’s demise and our crazy modern lives? Walking over the ped bridge, one experiences a different viewpoint and inspiration for the endurance of vision.

Grassy area by UW-T
Title: Manifest Destiny
Artists: Maria Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Elise Richman

Manifest Destiny was a phrase that justified the territorial expansion of the United States as if it were a divine sanction. A series of markers reminiscent of the Northern Pacific Railroad signs act as a historical timeline of Tacoma, starting in 1870, three years before Tacoma was designated as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad. A stepping stone begins the journey and the subsequent signs track the growing population of the city over 140 years at intervals that represent the largest jumps in population.

Dock Street Grassy Area
Title: Zero Down
Artists: Chris Jordan, Chandler O’Leary, Claudia Riedener

From a series of ‘footprints’ that occupy the grassy area, colorful shadows extend. The images are rendered in temporary paint and continued in chalk, the forms span the grass and onto the concrete morphing into forms human and imagined. Each brightly colored shadow represents the diversity and complexities of humans’ personalities. Seen here, a ghostly profile that will fade over time.

15th Street Overpass
Title: TACOMABALL
Artists: Kyle Dillehay, Lisa Kinoshita, Oliver Doriss

The curve of this overpass is the inspiration for TACOMABALL, a monumental, temporarily interactive pinball-style game which will come to life during the Prairie Line Trail tour. Gigantic red balls will be bowled down the curve interacting with various obstacles depicting both notorious and beloved local icons. Racing stripes and imagery reminiscent of the game will remain on the ramp (assuming nature cooperates) through the course of the exhibit making every pedestrian a player in the game.

Hood Street
Title: Rogue Rhizomes
Artists: Chris Sharp, Lance Kagey, James Sinding

This section of the Prairie Line Trail is a ragged remnant of an industrial heritage that has witnessed dynamic transformation all around, while remaining itself, virtually unchanged over the last 100 years. The fringes of this space are a competition between structured plantings and wildness trying to reinsert itself into the landscape. This installation explores the rogue elements of organic invasiveness, between city and wildness. Using brightly colored markers and a three-dimensional letterform the eye is drawn from a distance and evoke ideas of giant flora. Organic patterns around the base of each light pole emanate outwards over time making use of positive and negative space and ‘invade’ the surrounding area.

Photo: Holly Senn
Tollefson Plaza
Title: Link
Artists: Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Holly Senn

Link makes visible the connection between the rail lines and highlights how the Prairie Line Trail linked Tacoma to the communities of Tenino, McIntosh, Wetico, Rainier, Yelm, Roy, Hillhurst, Lakeview, and South Tacoma. Floating yellow orbs, iconic of the yellow and black railroad signs will re-enact the stops along the line that connected with these communities.

Photo: Kristin Giordano
Under I-705
Title: Wild Wilderness
Artists:  Jennifer Adams, Kristin Giordano, Kenji Stoll

This work comments on the diminishing open spaces in our world and the impact on animal habitat.  In addition, it calls attention to the wild spaces that exist within our urban midst. Peeking from the interesting, dense vegetation near Tacoma Art Museum, a variety of animals that would be hard pressed to co-exist inhabit this newly created environment. Think: mega fauna.

Get Going - Lincoln’s Eyes on the Skybridge

Posted on

Finally I had a free day to snap a photo of the temporary art installation, Envision.  It is easy piece to miss, especially on a sunny day. It is located on the pedestrian bridge (skybridge) that connects two buildings (the Keystone Building and the Science Building) on the University of Washington, Tacoma campus. Envision is one of the installations that make up the Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line exhibit which is in place through the end of November. The project’s website states:

SITE 7: UW-T Pedestrian Bridge

Title: Envision
Artists: Jeremy Gregory, Diane Hansen, Ed Kroupa

Gigantic eyes look down on the campus from the pedestrian bridge. Are they benevolent? Visionary? Judging? That depends. The eyes are those of Abraham Lincoln, the visionary whose dream it was to complete a transcontinental rail that would meet the Pacific. Is he overlooking his accomplishment or wondering about this particular route’s demise and our crazy modern lives? Walking over the ped bridge, one experiences a different viewpoint and inspiration for the endurance of vision.

(Drat, I should have walked over the bridge!)

Gregory Blog - Public Art Temporary Installation on the Prairie Line Trail

The Art and Antics of Jeremy Gregory (mostly true).

Posted 26th November 2011 by Jeremy Gregory

The University of Washington pedestrian bridge.

This is the spot that was chosen for me and my group from the PA:ID program. The PA:ID program was a class put on by the arts commission to help selected artists take their studio practice into the public realm. The class was broke up into groups and each group was given a spot on the Prairie Line Trail to do a temporary installation.

(The following) are some of the sketches from our brainstorming session.

Call me a narcissist, but I like the mock up using my eyes. It reminds me of the frustration from being so thinly stretched working on this project, the stop motion project, painting the Two Five Trees mural for Polar Plaza and teaching at the School of the Arts 

My group included: Ed Kroupa from Two Raven Studios, and Diane Hansen from Bella Balls.

University of Washington Tacoma - Public art to mark the Prairie Line Trail through UW Tacoma

December 1, 2011

Don't worry if you see Godzilla-sized eyes peering down from a skybridge or faux prairie grass suddenly sprouting atop railroad tracks on the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

It’s all part of a temporary public art installation along the historic Prairie Line Trail through downtown Tacoma. “Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line,” will be on display this weekend through the end of November.

A tour of “Temporal Terminus” will kick off the installation at 2 p.m. Saturday, starting at Tollefson Plaza.

The eight-piece exhibit includes three works at UW Tacoma:

  • Ghost Prairie – Colorful plastic zip ties inserted into Masonite boards form an 18-foot stretch of artificial prairie on existing railway.
  • Envision – Gigantic eyes gaze down on the campus from the pedestrian skyway connecting the Science Building and Keystone. The eyes belong to Abraham Lincoln, who dreamed of completing a transcontinental rail to the Pacific.
  • Manifest Destiny – A series of markers reminiscent of Northern Pacific Railroad signs create a Tacoma timeline.

Sponsored by the Tacoma Arts Commission and UW Tacoma, the exhibit commemorates the Prairie Line Trail segment that was built in the 1870s as the western end of the northern transcontinental railroad.

The segment traversed downtown Tacoma from South 25th Street, across the UW Tacoma campus, down to the waterfront. UW Tacoma is developing its portion of the trail into public pathways and greenspace to connect to the rest of the trail the city is developing.

“Be on the lookout for a number of playful, interactive artworks along the Prairie Line Trail,” said City of Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride, “This trail is going to change Tacoma for the better, creating a much-needed pedestrian and bike connection between downtown and the water. The works presented in Temporal Terminus are just a glimpse of the incredible potential of the trail.”

Temporal Terminus features artwork by teams of Tacoma artists and a sculptural work by the national design team, Thoughtbarn, of Austin, Texas. 

Thoughtbarn’s participation was funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant secured by the City of Tacoma.

Thoughtbarn artists Lucy Begg and Robert Gay began assembling their exhibit, Ghost Prairie, on Wednesday with the help of art students from the Tacoma School of the Arts.

Ghost Prairie recalls the rail line’s geographic namesake. Neon-bright plastic zip ties stand like blades of prairie grass jutting from undulating forms made of Masonite board. The artificial prairie segments will be placed atop existing railway segments on campus.

“The idea was to bring alive some of the railroad history,” Begg said.

Through research and two earlier visits to the South Sound, Begg and Gay based the exhibit on the mysterious hump-shaped Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve in Thurston County, home to one of the last native prairielands in the South Sound.

The artists digitized photos of the Mima Mounds to deduce the separate colors that make up the grasses, and patterned the work’s structural forms on the actual mound formations.

School of the Arts students spent hours tying yellow, orange, white and green zip ties into the forms, following intricate color guides the artists created.

The crew attracted curious glances from passersby as they worked in a vacant storefront in the university’s Joy Building on Pacific Avenue.

“We love it,” Gay said of the project. “It’s been a great opportunity to work with the arts community in Tacoma.”

Media contact: 
Debby Abe, Communication Services, 253-692-4536, debbyabe@uw.edu

Forward Tacoma - UWT Hood Corridor Project Community Forum, Jan 30

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Join the University of Washington Tacoma for a conversation about the Hood Corridor Project. Guided by student and community input, landscape architects Atelier Dreiseitl have developed a preliminary plan that transforms the 80ft wide rail corridor through campus into a vibrant new open space. The plan celebrates and leverages opportunities provided by community connections while honoring the industrial past of the surrounding area. The community forum for the UWT Hood Corridor Project starts at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30 in William Philip Hall.

Posted by City of Tacoma Community and Economic Development at 11:09 AM

The News Tribune - For 2012 and beyond, get involved and push yourself to fulfill your potential

M. “MORF” MORFORD

Published: 01/01/12 12:05 am  Last updated: January 1st, 2012 12:31 AM

I don’t know about anyone else, but the holiday season tends to leave me feeling depleted and ready for some changes.

With each new year, I have goals, decisions or resolutions I have attempted or considered, but they could all be summed up in one concept: I want the new year to be one lived intentionally.

I hate the idea of days just sliding by; I want to decide where I am going and how I will do things. My current work schedule isn’t very flexible, but that doesn’t I can’t be.

And, since the apocalyptic prophets and films have been wrong 100 percent of the time so far, chances are pretty good that we’ll find ourselves in the same position a year from now.

Here are my thoughts for this – or any new year: Whatever you intend to do – or stop doing – in the new year, do it deliberately, with the intention of becoming more fully the person only you can be.

For many years now my wife and I have developed our goals for each year. Our organizing question is: “Where do we want to be by this time next year?”

We also developed longer, multi-year goals.

I’d like to see us as individuals, and as a community, focus on where we want to be one year, two years and 10 years from now.

The ancient Greeks defined a “citizen” as someone who was actively engaged in the life of the community. Voting was a minimum. A true citizen, in their eyes was someone who was publicly involved and who supported projects.

I’ve never been much of a joiner, but public groups that we support or join help us define who we are and who our larger community is.

There are many local (and national) organizations we can join or support. I am currently a member of the Grand Cinema and the Tacoma Food Co-op. We have previously been supporters of NPR and PBS. We have also supported the Red Cross and the Tacoma Art Museum, among many others.

There was a study several years ago of healthy people over 90. Those who were healthiest, both mentally and physically, were member of at least three groups. It didn’t matter what the groups were; they could be religious, political or based around an activity – from skiing to bridge.

Two groups allowed people to become too narrow, but there was something about three or more social settings that kept people socially and mentally open and growing.

I urge you to consider joining or supporting an individual activity, a local group and a regional or national (or even international) group.

To join a group presumes a vision beyond the immediate and the personal. One vision I have for Tacoma is a network of connected parks essentially surrounding the city.

We already have much of it with Ruston Way and Point Defiance. Swan Creek, Tacoma’s most under-appreciated park, dominates the East Side with breathtaking views of Commencement Bay, Mount Rainier and the Puyallup Valley.

Can you imagine how wonderful a series of parks around the city would be? We could have a walking trail around the city to complement the Sound to Narrows run. The Prairie Line Trail would be a perfect match as it would connect the periphery to the city center.

It sounds flaky and impossible I know, but the University of Washington in downtown Tacoma seemed crazy 20 years ago, too.

Tacoma has a unique and beautiful setting, and we have many creative and resourceful people. All we need is a shared vision.

Like each of us individually, Tacoma needs to break out of its inertia. The new year is a good time to start.

M. Morford “Morf” of Tacoma is a former reader columnist.

UW Tacoma - Rail trail needs your feedback

Winter 2012 (1-1-2012)


The "Garden Rooms" design for the Hood Coridor section of the trail.

Rail trail needs your feedback

Three ideas of how to develop the segment of the Prairie Line Trail that runs through campus were presented recently for public review. Let us know what you think of them.

You may remember when the train ran through the middle of campus. Now the trains are gone, but the tracks remain part of UW Tacoma’s heritage. These are the original tracks of the northern branch of the transcontinental railroad, connecting U.S. agriculture, timber and other business to the deep waters of the port of Tacoma, and all points beyond.

Concept A: Rail Spurs

Concept B: Docks and Channels

Concept C: Garden Rooms

The City of Tacoma is planning to create a pedestrian and cycling trail along the tracks and right of way, called the Prairie Line Trail. It will stretch a half-mile from Thea Foss Esplanade to the Brewery District and link to other trail systems, including the historic Water Ditch Trail. The city is applying for grants to develop the rail line formerly used by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and plans to install artwork along the trail.

The segment of the trail that runs through the UW Tacoma campus is owned by the university and will be converted first as part of the construction on the new Tioga Library Building. Recently, conceptual designs for the trail were presented to the public.

The landscape design firm Atelier Dreiseitl came up with three concepts, which they call “Rail Spurs,” “Docks and Channels” and “Garden Rooms.”

All three of the designs leave the original rails intact, but the space between and around them will be filled to make flat surfaces for walking and biking. Different elements of landscaping might cross the rails for short distances, but they would always be apparent.

All three versions incorporate stormwater systems that will catch rainwater runoff and cleanse it before allowing it to enter Thea Foss Waterway. This stormwater management system will provide educational opportunities for students and for the public, and water elements included in the landscaping.

The university planners who worked with the landscapers wanted to emphasize that the trail would be a green space that is student-centric, but that people in the community will also enjoy. It will provide a peaceful, pleasant place to walk, ride bikes, read, or just sit and enjoy the day, while allowing access to buildings on both sides.

The “Rail Spurs” design mimics the patterns of rail spurs in the original tracks to provide spaces that might be seen as “porches” of buildings lining the trail.

The “Docks and Channels” design was inspired by the original buildings alongside the rail line, which had their own docks for loading and unloading goods.

The “Garden Rooms” concept creates a series of outdoor rooms, with changing patterns of landscaping and water.

The Japanese Language School that once stood on university grounds will be memorialized along the trail.

Fundraising for a memorial sculpture is under way.

University planners want to make a decision on the landscaping this spring and welcome public feedback. The plan is to begin construction in early summer. Availability of funding may mean that the trail will have to be built in phases, but it should be partly in place by fall quarter.

What do you think of the plans?

University of Washington Tacoma - BNSF Prairie Line Trail - Update

Jan 06, 2012

Prairie Line Trail


Map of the Prairie Line Trail

North to Downtown

South Crossing 19th St Stairs

South Through Campus - Future Development

Tacoma Weekly - Grand walkway along former Prairie line set for open house

By Steve Dunkelberger
Thursday, January 19, 2012

The next big steps in the creation of a Prairie Line Historical Trail that would run through the University of Washington-Tacoma campus on its way to Thea Foss Waterway comes later this month when university officials will present trail options.

The open house to display the trail options will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 30 at Philip Hall on the UWT campus.

Plans include the redevelopment of the area where the Prairie Line train track ran from South 17th to South 21st streets, through what is now the heart of the campus. The campus work is part of a larger project that would link the nearby Water Ditch trail to the southeast and the Foss Waterway to the northwest.

The one-mile span through campus will include walkways, open spaces for gatherings and events, landscaping and historical markers denoting the tracks as the last leg of the transcontinental railroad that gave rise to Tacoma as an industrial and transportation hub on the West Coast during the late 1800s. Burlington Santa Fe Railroad Co. traded the surplus tracks to the city four years ago for other land and concessions.

"I think it is going to be an iconic spot of Tacoma," said UWT Director of Construction Projects Milt Tremblay. "It is really going to transform the campus."

Campus buildings had been originally built or redesigned to downplay the undeveloped and largely unkempt swath of track when the university was taking shape a decade ago. The addition of a grand walkway that bisects the campus would allow for buildings to open onto what could become an anchor feature for the whole campus along the track's right of way. The tracks themselves will largely remain visible and play a part in the trail's design as a way to tie the modern use of the corridor to Tacoma's railroad roots as the terminus for the West Coast when the tracks were laid in 1873.

"We are committed to preserving the heritage of the Prairie Line," Tremblay said. "In every option, the rails stay in place."

The project itself will not only include pedestrian improvements but also features to better manage storm water runoff from along the hillside. Cost estimates are not in play at this point since the options are still under review, but the idea is to select an option or aspects of all of the options to form a final design package. A search for grants and other funding options would follow a phased approach that could take years depending on how quickly the flow of money comes. City grants, for example, have already been won for the storm water work and the installation of LED lights.

The final route of the Prairie Line's leg to the water once it leaves the campus is still in the works. The tracks cross Pacific Avenue and diagonally down the hill behind what is now the United Way of Pierce County headquarters and the Children's Museum of Tacoma. United Way officials have been eying that strip for additional parking or further commercial development, so the trail could shift to nearby Hood Street that runs next to Tacoma Art Museum. The museum is developing a plaza design to play off the trail as well as it routes to Dock Street.

Whatever the route, the trail will connect to the Esplanade along the waterfront, which runs the length of Foss to Ruston Way and eventually will tie into Point Defiance Park, while another trail project at 25th Street will tie into the Water Ditch that runs along South Tacoma Way as far south as Oak Tree Park on 72nd Street.

"The Prairie Line Trail will transform the historic Prairie Line corridor into a distinctive urban pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects downtown Tacoma's most significant recreational, cultural and educational destinations to its waterfront," the city's transportation grant application stated. "The trail also provides yet another important link in the region's trail system with connections to multiple cities and attractions such as Chambers Bay Recreational Area and the Foothills Trail."

Links to those trail systems would mean the walkway would span from Tacoma's waterfront to as far eastward as Buckley.

Kevin Freitas Blog - Downtown Tacoma Sunny Winter Day Walk

Jan. 27, 2012 at 1:09pm

I stopped off at Hal of a Sub for my usual (and fantastic) egg salad sammich today then decided to walk the long way back to work to enjoy the sunshine. I strolled along "A" Street then cut over to Pacific along the historic Prairie Line railroad track. Don't worry, no trains run on it anymore as it's slated to become a trail. Made for a beautiful lunch hour and, as always, am happy to share photos with y'all below.

   

The News Tribune - University of Washington Tacoma unveils trail designs

PETER CALLAGHAN; STAFF WRITER
Published: 02/02/12 12:05 am | Updated: 02/03/12 3:29 pm

After watching a presentation Monday by architects and designers from the international firm Atelier Dreiseitl, I guess I was supposed to echo the oooohs and aaaaahs of University of Washington Tacoma staff.

Three different designs were shown for how the UWT would redevelop its section of the Prairie Line Trail, the old rail line that brought the first Northern Pacific train to tidewater in 1873.

“The university loved all three of them,” said UWT campus facilities director Milt Tremblay.

I could understand his affection. The three designs – “Rail Spurs,” “Docks and Channels” and “Garden Rooms” – were very pretty. As university open space, they check all the boxes with swoops and eddys, seats and lounging areas, ponds and plantings.

The designers are also sure to qualify the project for state stormwater treatment grants for the way they capture rainwater from the hillside above and filter it for its final flow to the Sound.

What I noticed most, though, is what was missing. As a vital section of an urban rails-to-trails corridor, it is more roadblock than pathway. As an adaptive reuse of one of Washington’s signature historic icons, it flunks history.

PETER HALEY/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
The path along the Prairie Line tracks that run through the University of
Washington Tacoma would look much different under three redevelopment plans.

“Garden Rooms” is one of three concepts designed by Atelier Dreiseitl
for redevelopment of the historic Prairie Line railroad tracks that
run through the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

First the corridor. Tacoma considers the Prairie Line (for some reason UWT calls its segment the “Hood Corridor”) an important part of its hoped-for network of bike and pedestrian trails. The city won federal transportation enhancement grants to plan its sections of the Prairie Line because of the potential for non-motorized transportation.

When the city gave UWT its rights to the middle 20 feet of the line through campus, the City Council stated that Tacoma “views the entire Trail as a vital element in its plans to link the downtown to the waterfront, as well as to southern areas of the City and the regional trail system.

”But such a use isn’t listed among the UWT’s nine Hood Corridor Objectives. Bike enthusiasts were told Monday they might be better off using Jefferson Street above campus. And Tremblay told the city Landmarks Commission last week: “One of the philosophies is, this isn’t a bike highway. Being on campus, we want it to be a more passive place where people stop, look, learn, listen.

“If you’re really a biker and you’re trying to get somewhere, we’re trying to direct you to other places.

”There must be some happy medium between a “bike highway” and the way these designs grudgingly allow bikers and walkers to traverse what resembles a pedestrian mall. A real trail, after all, only requires 14 feet of the 80-foot right of way. There are ways to control any possible conflicts.

Bob Myrick of the Tacoma Wheelman’s Bicycle Club attended the campus presentation and lamented the change from trail to something else.

“That was the way it was originally dreamed of, but now it’s changing,” he said later. “It’s more like a garden park."

”Elliott Barnett is Tacoma’s open space coordinator and has watched the UWT’s planning. He said the city will send the UWT its reaction to the three proposals.

“We’re looking for an ample through-corridor concept here,” Barnett said while acknowledging the complexities of the campus environment.

At least the UWT mentions history in its objectives. The design is to “respond to the industrial past” of the area and “honor the historic significance of the railroad terminus."

But it’s hard to see much of either in the three designs. The original use will not be obvious. And though the architects might get points for retaining the steel rails, that doesn’t mean a visitor will always notice.

“In all options, the rail line stays there,” Tremblay told landmarks commissioners. However, it might be buried under berms or plantings or covered by stormwater ponds.

“You’re not going to be able to see it all the time, but you’ll know where it was,” he said.

Susan Johnson, an architectural historian attending the open house, said she found the designs generic. Lots of paving and wood are used, but little brick and steel.

“I don’t get the sense that it is Tacoma specific and I don’t see the industrial heritage,” she said.

Sharon Winters of Historic Tacoma told landmarks commissioners the railroad history is underplayed. “I’m concerned with how far this is moving from the narrative of the Prairie Line,” she said.

Yes, the property is now owned by the university. Yes, it is in the midst of a college campus. But the Prairie Line and its history are public domain. The university may own the land, but it doesn’t own the story.

Encouraging a free flow of people into, out of and through the campus fits exactly within its ethic of a campus without walls.

The UWT seems in a hurry. If it wants bicyclists to slow down, it should, too.

Related Link
UWT webpage with Atelier Dreiseitl’s latest designs

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/politics
Twitter: @CallaghanPeter

Exit 133 - Questions Re UWT Hood Corridor Plans

2 February 2012, 06:50

The UWT Hood Corridor open house was this Monday; a chance for the campus and the Tacoma community to see proposed plans for improvements to the stretch of the Prairie Line Trail that runs through the UWT campus. Glossy artists’ renderings of the three versions of upgrades are impressive improvements on what’s there now, all with walking paths, benches, open spaces and attractive stormwater management systems. They’re very pretty plans.

The News Tribune’s Peter Callaghan, however, has some valid questions, which he raises in an article today. Callaghan challenges the plans as being lacking on two fronts: bikes and history.

Bikes – The proposed plans aren’t in keeping with the Prairie Line trail’s intended use as a bike corridor. UWT staff admit as much.

History – The proposed designs fail to pay adequate homage to the industrial legacy of the space, and its historical importance as the railroad terminus.

The next date on the project calendar is a March presentation to the UW Architectural Commission, followed by approval of a concept, and establishment of phase one. That gives the design team about a month to consider addressing concerns raised by the public. It’s exciting to see this space turned into a more inviting and attractive corner of downtown Tacoma, but Callaghan’s article raises some valid concerns about the space and its meaning to the public, both in terms of form and function. What do you think? Turning a critical eye on proposed plans. Are you hoping to see a change of heart on bicycles? On incorporation of industrial and/or historical design elements? Maybe something else entirely?

The News Tribune - UWT officials say they're listening to feedback about Prairie Line Trail plans

PETER CALLAGHAN
Last updated: February 4th, 2012 09:55 PM (PST)

It probably wouldn’t be fair to say that the University of Washington Tacoma is backpedaling on designs for its portion of the Prairie Line Trail (even though the pun is pretty darned tempting).

Better to say university administrators are listening to feedback from folks in town about proposed designs to reuse the rail line that brought the first Northern Pacific transcontinental to tidewater in 1873.

I wrote Thursday about my concerns, shared by others, that the designs were pretty, but not sensitive to competing desires, especially that the historic trail reflect its history and that the trail actually be a trail.

The university’s segment is near the end of what is hoped to be a regional trail network connecting downtown to South Tacoma’s Water Ditch Trail and other existing and planned regional trails.

But the designs presented by international firm Atelier Dreiseitl last week seemed to barely tolerate bikes. Both designers and university administrators even suggested that bicyclists who are “trying to get somewhere” should use streets above and below the campus.

Being a physical and psychic roadblock to bikes risked making the entire trail network less functional. And the designs didn’t reflect the industrial history of the area – neither the railroad nor the warehouse buildings that grew up adjacent to the tracks.

UWT spokesman Mike Wark called Friday to say the university had heard the concerns about the designs and was responding to them.

First, he said, administrators will stop referring to the project as the Hood Corridor and will likely use a name that includes the more familiar Prairie Line. It also will add a 10th design objective for the project to make sure the regional trail system is respected.

“It will say something like, ‘the UW Tacoma section of the Prairie Line Trail will be part of the larger Prairie Line Trail and its goals,” Wark said. “I was surprised that wasn’t already there. It was implied in the objectives but wasn’t specifically called out."

Wark said he thinks administrators who suggested bikes should use other routes had miscommunicated the UWT’s intent.

“That got away from the original concern, which was the speed of bikes,” Wark said. “It’s been envisioned from the start as a through corridor for the city and the campus.

”A better way to describe the safety concerns would have been to say that if bicyclists want to go 30 miles per hour, they should use other routes. Those willing to share the pathway with students crossing the trail and using the rest of the corridor as outdoor space will be welcome.

“That’s now top-of-mind for us,” Wark said.

Designers will also reconsider the types of materials used in the trail project to better reflect the brick and steel seen on campus and in the neighborhood.

“They are taking that to heart,” he said.

A significant driver of the project is stormwater, both for philosophical and financial reasons. The university is committed to building green and has staked part of its future on efforts to develop and promote clean water technology through its Urban Waters center, Wark said.

Like the nearby Pacific Avenue streetscape project in downtown Tacoma, state and federal stormwater treatment money is picking up a big part of the tab of the trail project. Forty percent of the first phase will be covered by a stormwater grant.

But the retention and filtering system is not why the trail designs treated bikes as an afterthought. A trail big enough to be eligible for grant money need only be 14 feet wide. The corridor is 80 feet wide.

While it seems UWT is moving quickly – hoping to approve design in early March and start construction next summer – Wark said there will be plenty of opportunity for meaningful public involvement. No decisions are final until Chancellor Debra Friedman makes them and she “is definitely looking at the feedback,” he said.

To see a UWT webpage with Atelier Dreiseitl’s latest designs and a way to send comments, go online to http://bit.ly/prairieuwt

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com  
blog:thenewstribune.com/politics
Twitter: @CallaghanPeter

American Trails - Trail designs stir controversy at University of Washington Tacoma

2/4/2012

International design firm Atelier Dreiseitl unveiled three different designs for how the UWT would redevelop its section of the Prairie Line Trail. "As university open space, they check all the boxes with swoops and eddys, seats and lounging areas, ponds and plantings," Peter Callaghan writes for the The News Tribune. "There must be some happy medium between a 'bike highway' and the way these designs grudgingly allow bikers and walkers to traverse what resembles a pedestrian mall."

Tacoma Culture - The Arts - Prairie Line Trail

March 1, 2012

Overview of the Prairie Line Trail

The Prairie Line Trail is an extraordinary landmark of Tacoma history. In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad designated the now-overgrown, half-mile, two-acre corridor as the western terminus for its transcontinental railroad, beating out competitors Seattle, Olympia and Bellingham. Modern city-building and telegraph communications followed the railroad, and from here sprung the town’s moniker, “The City of Destiny.” The proposed $5.83 million walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District and Thea Foss Waterway, and eventually connects with the Water Ditch Trail. Users will be within walking distance of the convention center, the copper-domed Union Station, and the ethereal Museum of Glass Bridge – all destinations that radiate outward from the Tacoma Art Museum. 

Public Art Plan for the Prairie Line Trail

The Prairie Line Trail offers an opportunity to create a history-infused active destination and outdoor art venue that is unique to Washington, and the country. The PLT will draw visitors to our historic downtown, where curated temporary and site-specific permanent art will greet trail users.

Urban planner Todd Bressi and the design team of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay (Thoughtbarn) were awarded a commission, supported by a National Endowment for the Arts planning grant, to develop a public art plan for the trail.

Click here to see a draft of public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail.

The News Tribune - ‘New’ name not only progress for UWT trail

PETER CALLAGHAN; STAFF WRITER
Published: 03/22/12 12:05 am | Updated: 03/22/12 10:59 am

I’ll take gains where I can find them.

Like when the University of Washington Tacoma decided to change the name for its plan to reclaim the swath of the old railroad tracks through campus.

The UWT and its architects had taken to calling it the Hood Corridor Project after an old street name that few used and fewer remember. The administration has now decided to use Prairie Line Trail – UWT Station.

The overall design appears to be in flux as well. UWT Chancellor Debra Friedman and Harlan Patterson, her vice chancellor for administrative services, directed the design team to make sure bike and pedestrian use has equal footing with campus gathering and open space.

Using the UWT section of what will be a regional trail as a way to pass through campus was clearly discouraged by all three earlier designs. (See them online at bit.ly/prairieuwt (http://bit.ly/prairieuwt).

Administrators also want stormwater treatment to be a third priority rather than the primary design element, something they think can be done without jeopardizing stormwater grants that are a major source of funding.

And Friedman and Patterson directed that historic elements, including the rails, be included in the trail and want designers to suggest materials, primarily concrete and steel, that reflect the industrial legacy of the campus.

Plans to present a final design at the March 14 meeting of the main campus’ Architectural Commission were put off to the June 3 meeting to allow for a revised design.

“The intent is to be responsive to concerns raised by the community,” said UWT spokesman Mike Wark.

Some of those concerns were raised in a Feb. 22 letter from the Tacoma Landmarks Commission.

“The most appropriate design direction may not lie within one of those options, but rather a blending of different characteristics of those three as well as others not discussed,” the commission said in a letter signed by Chairman Mark McIntire. “The historic character of the district and the relationship between the rails and the warehouse district is critical.”

To that end, the commission wants the remaining railroad equipment – signals, sheds, crossing arms – inventoried and preserved. It also said the rails should be kept.

“During the presentation it was mentioned that the rails will remain, but may be ‘seen or not seen’ in certain locations,” said the letter. “The commission strongly encourages the rails to be used as a primary element in any design scheme.”

And finally, the commission insisted it has legal authority to approve or disapprove the historic aspects of the designs and not just play the advisory role the UWT seems to prefer.

While the UWT was slowing down on the west side of Pacific Avenue, the state was getting all uppity on the east side. Using the months-long occupation of Pugnetti Park by Occupy Tacoma as an excuse, the Department of Transportation is trying to renege on the creation and preservation of open space near its Interstate 705 project.

DOT fenced off the 25-year-old park, inexplicably claiming liability concerns. Then it tried to shift the burden onto the city, Metro Parks, the UWT or even the Washington History Museum next door.

Keeping with our theme here, the fence not only prevents park use but blocks off a century-old monument to that first Northern Pacific train that hit tidewater on Dec. 16, 1873.

The city rightly said no but should go further. It should insist that the state keep its side of the I-705 mitigation deal and tell DOT Secretary Paula Hammond, “Ms. Hammond, tear down this fence.”

Sure, the park is a bit homely and isolated. But grass is so rare in downtown that it should be preserved (if it can be made green again after the occupation).

And I still have a great idea for even more green space in the area. Rather than develop the triangle of land between the Children’s Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum that contains the terminal tracks of the nation’s second transcontinental railroad, it could be acquired as open space and trail.

Prairie Line Park sounds nicer than United Way Parking Lot.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com 
blog.thenewstribune.com/politics
Twitter: @CallaghanPeter

Exit 133 - Prairie Line Trail: UWT Station Plans

22 March 2012, 11:47

Chalk one up for Tacoma history and bike advocates who challenged the UWT’s plans for the /Hood Corridor/  Prairie Line Trail, and give Peter Callaghan some credit too, for bringing the issue to our attention back in early February.

Callaghan is back on the case in today’s TNT, with a rundown of the smaller victory of getting designs reconsidered. The project calendar has been pushed out by a few months, after concerns were raised over the initial design proposals on two counts. First, the bikeability of that portion of what is intended to be… a bike corridor. Second, the (lack of) historic elements of the Prairie Line Trail, named for… the historic Prairie Line that originally defined the slope of the path into downtown.

The original project calendar had the final design scheduled for presentation March 14, but that date has now been pushed out to June 3. With any luck, and a little continued pressure from concerned parties, the final design will include a more bike-friendly route, and more elements honoring the history of the space… like, maybe, a greater presence for the rails, which are still there.

While he was at it, Callaghan’s article considers other relevant questions of downtown open spaces – the current Pugnetti Park situation, and the not-too-distant-future question of the fate of the next section of the Prairie Line, where it runs behind the building that houses the United Way and the new Children’s Museum. Callaghan suggests that the space would be better used as an open park space, rather than developed as a parking lot for the United Way offices. “Prairie Line Park sounds nicer than United Way Parking Lot,” he sums up.

We seem to remember the original plans for the Prairie Line trail involving a continuous, walkable, bikeable path connecting the Waterfront to other bike trails in the area, and acknowledging the importance of the railways in Tacoma’s history… Were we wrong about that? If that is the plan, why is this so hard?

The News Tribune - Random updates on Prairie Line Trail from walking Tacoma Council committee meeting

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on March 29, 2012 at 11:46 am | 

It was something of an unusual venue for Tacoma City Council committee meeting – a roving group of committee members and followers traipsing the length of the Prairie Line Trail while being briefed by city staff, Tacoma Art Museum officials and the University of Washington Tacoma.

The meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee attracted about two dozen people Wednesday afternoon.

The trail is the remains of the old Northern Pacific line that delivered the trans-continental’s first trains to tidewater starting in 1873. The Burlington Northern-Sante Fe is gradually selling or trading the line from S. 25th Street to S. 15th Street to the University of Washington Tacoma and the city.

Ownership hasn’t been completely transferred yet (although the right of way through the UWT has been purchased by the state). But the city is already planning for how to transform the unused track and often overgrown right of way into a trail.

Here are a few of the updates that came out of the walking meeting:

_ Tacoma is ready to hire a design team to plan its sections of the trail above and below the UWT section. Elliott Barnett, a city planner on the project, said the selection could be made in the next two weeks.

_ The configuration of the trail between Pacific Avenue and S. 15th street has not been determined. This is the section for which the United Way of Pierce County has an option to buy from BNSF. Before preservationists and others objected the United Way’s plans to build parking and perhaps later a building on top of the tracks, the city had intended to clear the way for such a use by shifting the trail from the tracks to the shoulder of Hood Street.

_ Ryan Petty, director of Tacoma’s economic development office, said he continues to negotiate with the railroad for the remainder of the right of way. It has agreement for a 20-foot corridor from S. 21st to S. 23rd street and for the entire 80-feet right of way from S. 23rd to S. 25th streets.

_ The Tacoma Art Museum continues to refine designs for its renovated entry plaza. The rather bland plaza would be improved with an eye toward giving the museum more presence on Pacific Avenue, providing covered space for a sculpture garden and improving access to the museum from the parking lot below. That lot would be landscaped into what was termed a “maple grove.”

“It saddens us that the entrance to the Tacoma Art Museum isn’t as welcoming as the front porch of your own house,” said TAM trustee Steve Harlow. He said the museum is in the midst of a fundraising campaign and has raised $7 million toward its $17 million goal.

TAM executive director Stephanie Stebich said the museum wanted a significant public sculpture in the plaza, saying “we need a come hither.”

_ Stebich also said the plaza project is part of that fundraising but said that plaza funding will need some public money – from the city, county, state and federal governments. I had not heard her say that before and had thought that the TAM board and staff was looking only at private fundraising and grants for the plaza. Said Stebich: “A lot of this is public space. We do think there is a civic value.”

_ TAM seems to have decided to make a significant change to the facade of the museum designed by Antoine Predock and opened in 2003. The black glass that shares the facade with a silver metalic cladding will be exchanged for lighter glass. The dark glass makes the museum “look closed,” Stebich said.

_ UWT facilities director Milt Tremblay said the school will meet with architects designing its segment of the trail Friday to see revised plans. The revisions were ordered by UWT Chancellor Debra Friedman is response to community concerns that earlier designs did not encourage bikes and did not reflect the history and architecture of the area.

“What is great about Tacoma is we get a lot of input,” Tremblay said. He said there will be another round of public meetings once revised plans are completed.

Exit 133 - Prairie Line Trail Updates

2 April 2012, 11:33

In case you missed it last week, Peter Callaghan shared some updates on the progress of the Prairie Line Trail planning process.

  • Among the updates is a note that UWT met with architects on Friday to look over revised plans resulting from public comments complaining that the designs did not make enough reference to the history of the tracks the trail takes its name from, and were not in keeping with the trail’s purpose as a bike corridor. Once the University and architects have reviewed the plans, there will be another round of public meetings to see if the new designs measure up to expectations.

  • It appears that the fate of the stretch of the Prairie Line that runs behind the United Way property at 15th and Pacific is still up in the air. We don’t know about you, but we’re hoping that the City is able to prevail with the United Way to not build a parking lot over the stretch.

  • The Tacoma Art Museum is looking for a way to get noticed – they want to give passersby their best “come hither” look. The good news on that one is that TAM is $7 million towards their $17 million goal for the museum’s new front porch, which will integrate with City upgrades to Pacific Avenue.

Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation -

Prairie Line Trail in Tacoma Open House - March 14, 2013

The News Tribune - Architect helps Tacoma imagine how to develop Prairie Line Trail

Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on June 8, 2013 at 12:05 am |

The vision for Tacoma’s Prairie Line Trail is coming sharply into focus. It will have five segments, each with its own unique features, yet collectively linked through a track of precast concrete pavers.

The trail is what its designer calls a “linear park,” melding the city’s railroad history with new, functional open spaces and art installations along a public path through downtown.

“We believe it is important to recognize that you have a sense that you’re on the same trail from beginning to end,” consulting landscape architect Mauricio Villarreal told city officials Tuesday. “But at the same time, as you go along the way, there are different neighborhoods or different characters.”

With this week’s Tacoma City Council endorsement of the trail’s final conceptual designs, city planners can now pursue $6 million in grant funding needed to fulfill the city’s dream for the mile-long bicycle and pedestrian path.

The project seeks to create the trail from a portion of the defunct Prairie Line, the original railway corridor dating to 1873. The first Northern Pacific train to reach Puget Sound traveled this line.

Running between South 26th and Dock streets – from the Brewery District to the Thea Foss Waterway – the proposed trail aims to create functional green space now lacking downtown. Planners also hope to spark business and community growth.

“It is a biking and pedestrian trail project, but we’re approaching it as much more than that,” city planner Elliott Barnett said. “It’s an important economic development catalyst.”

During his presentation, Villarreal, principal of Portland-based Place Studio, figuratively walked the council through his concept for the trail’s city-owned segments.

“Frankly, the greatest legacy about the railroad is that it preserved this open space through the city,” he said.

“Now, we believe there is a great opportunity for something to happen.”

The city’s portions of the trail – a one-third-mile stretch from South 26th to South 21st streets, and another one-third-mile stretch from South 17th to the Foss – bracket a four-block cross-campus section to be developed and maintained by University of Washington Tacoma.

The UWT’s piece is projected to cost $4 million and will be covered by a state Ecology Department grant and university funding. It’s expected to be completed by March, UWT spokesman Mike Wark said Thursday.

Meantime, the city has secured funding — through a $465,000 federal grant and $260,000 in tax revenues — to cover only the initial design, engineering and permits for its parts of the trail.

Place Studio, which also designed the UWT’s trail segment, took suggestions from adjacent property owners, businesses and other stakeholders and incorporated them into its designs for the city’s portions.

Draft renderings were then tweaked to create the final designs, which include changes to “protect parking and vehicular access” near the trail’s southern terminus, Barnett said.

Villarreal’s team identified and designed five segments for the city-owned parts of the trail, naming each after a prevailing feature.

The project’s first construction phase will seek to install basic design elements to create a functional trail. Later phases — to be tied to additional property acquisitions and redevelopment — would enhance the trail with more artwork, historic interpretations and other features.

The city’s five design segments, starting from the southern end, are:

Overlook Street: Running between South 26th and 25th streets, this segment challenged designers due to its narrow 20-foot right of way at a dead end.

The initial phase calls for a 5-foot-wide pathway. Cars still would be allowed to drive and park next to the trail. Later phases would expand the trail’s influence throughout the full 80-foot right of way to create a plaza for a vehicle turn-around and lookout point with a public seating area within a grove of trees, Villarreal said.

Water Street: In this segment, from South 25th to 23rd streets, the trail would run east of the railway. The vision is for a banked landscape with a rain garden feature where a stormwater swale now flows, Villarreal said. At the segment’s southern end, “there is an opportunity to create an open park,” he added.

Urban Flexible: Between South 23rd and 21st streets, this segment provides more design space for broader plazas. “It allows us opportunities for art installations, for culture, for people gathering,” Villarreal said. When fully developed, the area would contain various work, view and study spaces, and possibly room for games such as chess or bocce, he said.

Art Park: This segment, from South 17th to 15th, is situated across from the Tacoma Art Museum and leads the trail under Interstate 705. With a fairly wide right of way, it eventually could be developed into a tree-lined art park. “Eventually, there’s so much activity here,” Villarreal said. “You have the museum, you have people coming downtown, you have families coming to live here.”

Foss Connector: From South 15th Street to the Foss Waterway, the final segment seeks to narrow the driving lanes on an existing overpass “to create more open space for the bike lanes and for sitting along the way,” Villarreal said. Eventually, an art installation to create a “light bridge” would complement the nearby Bridge of Glass, visible to the south. “What we wanted to do was make this bridge something a little bit more iconic,” he said.

The News Tribune - Prairie Line Trail for bikes and walkers (dogs too), but not for cars

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on June 11, 2013 at 12:05 am | 

This segment of the Prairie Line Trail right of way will contain a roadway and parking, according to designs approved by the city of Tacoma. It’s between South 25th and South 23rd streets.
(PETER CALLAGHAN/STAFF WRITER)

It is impossible to overestimate the potential for what has become known as the Prairie Line Trail.

It takes some vision, imagination even, to look at the rusting tracks overgrown with weeds and see something other than a rather scary vestige of industrial Tacoma. Except where the trail passes through the University of Washington Tacoma, the adjacent buildings and seemingly abandoned lots do not say “public space.”

But then, that’s what the UWT looked like before the state began transforming it into an urban university (that will graduate a record 1,200 students this year). And it is because the old rail line was abandoned and because the BNSF Railway clung to it that it is available for this new use.

“The greatest legacy of the railroad is that it preserved this open space through the city,” said Mauricio Villarreal, the project architect from PLACE Studio of Portland.

Sooner than anyone would have guessed, the mile-long stretch will become a linear park with a wide path for walkers and bikers. Work on the UWT segment — 80-feet wide from South 21st Street to Pacific Avenue — begins this summer. And Tacoma is completing design and engineering for its two segments north and south of campus — one between Pacific Avenue and South 15th Street with connections to the Foss Waterway and the other from South 21st Street to South 26th Street (see latest renderings at http://bit.ly/newprairieline ).

The width of Tacoma’s segments range from 20-feet to the full 80-feet. But the city and members of a committee of residents who have been offering feedback and advice now seem to agree that getting the remaining width is vital. And most have now rejected a suggestion that the best use for a triangle of land between the Tacoma Art Museum and the United Way building would be for a high rise or surface parking. Thankfully the land is shown on proposed designs as the “Art Park” not the car park.

Which leads to my concern with the design and the city’s near-term approach to the development of the Prairie Line Trail. In order to maintain access and parking for a handful of businesses on the eastern (or lower) side of the right of way, the design for three southern segments provides not just for walkers and bicyclists, but for both moving and parked vehicles.

The stretch from South 25th to South 26th that is dubbed “Overlook Street” is a bit less galling. That stub will not be part of any trail system for some time, so the city proposes a narrow path within the existing rails. A gravel apron would be the only transition between an existing alley and parking against existing buildings.

But the segment called “Water Street” between South 23rd and South 25th streets — one area where the city finagled the entire 80-feet right of way from BNSF — shows nearly one-third of rare south downtown open space devoted to vehicles. The plan gives eight feet to a parking lane, 15.5 feet for what is euphemistically called a “drive aisle” and four feet for a buffer between cars and the trail.

The same configuration is shown from South 21st Street to South 23rd Street. While the city does not yet own the land where the road and parking lane would be, it still envisions a road once it acquires the land.

The city is concerned about the businesses that abut the trail. But they have been using railroad right of way all this time — land that once brought rail spurs to loading docks. The city acquired the trail from the railroad in a trade of land and other considerations for a trail and for open space, not more roads.

At the very least, the city should do as little as possible to accommodate cars and trucks and let the status quo prevail for now. While finding dollars for the actual trail development will be a challenge, none should be spent paving and curbing a roadway on land that most people hope will shift to more pastoral uses sooner, not later. Once this “drive aisle” becomes a well-known shortcut along the hillside, getting rid of it will be that much more difficult.

The News Tribune - More good news for Prairie Line Trail

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on April 29, 2014

Barry Civil Construction worker Nathan Brueher, with shovel, watches Monday as Chris Warner uses an
excavator to move soil for a footing for the Prairie Line Trail at the University of Washington Tacoma.
The section of the trail that runs through the campus is expected to be completed in the fall.
LUI KIT WONG/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are a lot of tough jobs in local government. 

Cop. Firefighter. Refuse collection. Sewage treatment plant operator.

But I’m prepared to argue that the toughest job award goes to whichever poor soul is assigned to negotiate with the railroad formerly known as the Northern Pacific. If the nation’s second transcontinental railroad needs a new slogan, it could be: “Successfully messing with local governments for 150 years.”

That helps explain that while it shouldn’t be big news that the city of Tacoma and the BNSF have finally signed a deal that gives each what it wants, it is.

Why’d it take so long? Don’t blame government this time. It took six years to negotiate details with BNSF lawyers and even took BNSF 15 months after the City Council accepted the deal to get it through the railroad bureaucracy.

With approval in hand, Tacoma gets ownership of the historic right of way that slices diagonally through the southern part of downtown. That means construction of a mile-long linear park — known as the Prairie Line Trail — can finally begin.

In return, BNSF gets property and permission to build a second access road into its former South Tacoma shops property, access needed to find new industrial and distribution tenants. It also got closure of a road that crosses its mainline adjacent to Interstate 705 at A Street.

No one thought it would take this long. Good thing, then, that while assistant economic development director Martha Anderson was dealing with BNSF, the planning staff was moving ahead with financing, design and engineering. Construction could start by the end of this year.

And this agreement is only the latest piece of good news for the Prairie Line.

• The Puget Sound Regional Council put the project at the top of its annual grant list — awarding Tacoma $1.9 million in federal funds for construction of the segment from the University of Washington Tacoma to South 15th Street. That’s on top of the $465,000 it gave previously for design work.

• The United Way agreed to broker a sale of the remaining right of way that sits between its building and the Tacoma Art Museum. That is the area where the city is getting just 20 feet of the 80-foot right of way, with the railroad threatening to sell the rest for development.

• While the Legislature did not pass a revised construction budget, a request from Tacoma legislators for $300,000 to reimburse United Way for the sale price won House approval and should compete well next year when a full capital budget is adopted.

• UWT, which is ahead of the city in development of its segment of the trail because it purchased the right of way outright from BNSF, has started construction. Its project, created by Portland’s Place Studio with lots of public help, should open by midfall.

“It’s finally happening,” said Elliott Barnett, a city planner who has been a primary staffer on the project.

Construction money for the portion through the Brewery District isn’t yet in hand, but Tacoma is getting lots of attention from grant-giving agencies because this project is unique. The Prairie Line runs through the middle of a developed city where open space is in short supply. The gentle grade needed by a locomotive also will provide a gentle climb for walkers and bike riders from the Foss Waterway to South 26th Street.

Want historic? It was this right of way that brought the first Northern Pacific train to tidewater in 1873, securing NP’s land grant and leading to completion of a transcontinental line chartered by Congress and signed into law in 1864 by President Abraham Lincoln.

Before you start having good feelings about BNSF, though, note that the city now has to fix a problem that came with its newly acquired land. On one edge of the land near the art museum is a billboard with a lifetime easement. To move ahead with the trail, the city will now will have to buy out an easement that should have been BNSF’s obligation … but wasn’t (see slogan above).

Last Updated ~ August 20, 2014

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