City of Tacoma's Prairie Line Trail project open house

By Volcano Staff on March 12, 2013

Up until 2003, trains pounded the historic Prairie Line rail corridor from the Thea Foss Waterway to the Brewery District, passing rickety warehouses and dens of iniquity - before UW-Tacoma rang its school bell for its first on-site freshman class.

In the fall of 2011, some $5.83 million was earmarked to turn the half-mile Prairie Trail corridor into 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. There was excitement. There were plans for fancy seating. In celebration, the Tacoma Art Commission turned the corridor into a temporary art installation complete with exhibits titled TacomaBall, Rogue Rhizomes and Ghost Prairie.

Then reality hit. The University of Washington brain trust recoiled over the fancy design and costs of its portion of the corridor, as well as the loss of a bike-friendly path through campus.

Today, a new set of plans rest on Chancellor Debra Friedman's desk. The storm water filtration ponds are now subtle. The pedestrian and bike paths are more functional. Historic elements have been saved and incorporated into the public gathering places and public art installations. And best of all, the price tag rings in at $4 million with construction to be complete by this fall.

Now it's the city of Tacoma's turn to fall in line. It's segments of the Prairie Line - south of campus into the Brewery District and north as it crosses Pacific Avenue and heads toward the Thea Foss Waterway, the end of the line for the transcontinental railroad of yesteryear - needs to meld with UWT's design. The city has plans for a pedestrian/bike trail and linear park through the city - plans and engineering it intendeds to carry out now that it has received a $465,000 grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council.

What will the city do about the railing running through BNSF's private property?

Discover the answer and see the city's proposed designs for its portion of the Prairie Line Tail at an open forum from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue. Yes, open forum. You may chime in with your own design thoughts. Would you like to see a taco truck every 20 feet? Chime in. Do you think it would be cool to have outdoor tap hits through the Brewery District? Who wouldn't?

For more on the Prairie Line Trail visit or download the pdf of the Prairie Line Trail presentation from February 4, 2013.