Originally part of a 110-year-old trail system that crossed Tacoma and extended to Mt. Rainier, remnants of the historic 1896 Water Ditch Trail “spine” are still used today. As more funding becomes available, the remaining project phases will restore the entire 6.5 mile trail which will provide the only trail linking South Tacoma with the downtown, Tacoma Dome area and the Thea Foss Waterway.
The Historic Water Ditch Trail project seeks to restore approximately 3 miles of the historic “Flume Line” property generally located along the South Tacoma Way and Clement Avenue corridor between the City Center and South 80th Street, and construct 3.5 miles of nonmotorized accommodation generally along South Tacoma Way from S. 47th Street to Pacific Avenue for non-vehicular transportation and recreational purposes.
Recently, the State Legislature passed ESSB 5186 with respect to increasing the physical activity and promoting a healthier lifestyle of Washington State citizens by planning for and constructing pedestrian and bicycle facilities that enhance community access to schools, parks and jobs. In support and compliance with the State Legislative ESSB 5186 and the desires of its citizens the Transportation Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan contains a planned trail system that is to become the “spine” of a well connected nonmotorized system.
Phase I Construction Project Scope: COMPLETE
- S. 43rd to S. 56th: Trail segments built to standards including traffic signal installation at S. 56th Street.
- S. 60th to S. 72nd: Nonmotorized accommodations including trail segments built to standards and lane edge striping.
Construction for phase one included rebuilding 2 miles of the historic trail to a Class 1 bike path with 14 feet wide asphalt and rock shoulders. The trail segment between South 43rd to South 56th included the installation of a traffic signal at South 56th and Montgomery streets. In the segment between South 60th to South 72nd the work included the reconstruction of several intersections. All of the new trail segments now include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps and crossings.
Tentative Construction Schedule
- March 2008: Open House with property owners/neighbors to finalize design (done)
- April 2008: finalize plans and specifications for bidding (done)
- April/May 2008: advertise project (done)
- May/June 2008: bid opening /City Council review and approval (done)
- October 2008 construction start (done)
- TBD 2009: construction complete (phase one complete, March 2009)
Benefits of a Trail
Walking and bicycling provide many benefits to individuals as well as to our community. An integrated, safe, pedestrian and bicycle trail system can increase transportation choices, and provide convenient access to schools, activity centers, transit systems, parks, and other recreation areas throughout the city. Right now citizens who commute via non-motorized travel must use the arterial street system which can be challenging and unsafe because of the lack of non-motorized facilities. The Historic Water Ditch Trail project will remedy that in part by providing easy access to a safe trail system that benefits commuters as well as encourages regular physical activity to enhance the health and wellness of our citizens. Future plans call for a coordinated effort to extend the trail south to the City of Lakewood and out into unincorporated Pierce County.
Tacoma City Council, Metropolitan Parks of Tacoma, Tacoma Rotary #8, Tacoma Wheelman Bicycle Club, South Tacoma Neighborhood Council, Tacoma Public Utilities, ForeverGreen Council,Cascade Land Conservancy
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