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Prairie Line Trail

Final design is underway for construction of the Pacific Avenue-to-Waterfront segment of the Prairie Line Trail. For up to date information, visit the Public Works Construction Projects page. 

Status - Final Conceptual Design Approved

On June 4, 2013, the City Council reviewed the final conceptual design for the Prairie Line Trail and provided staff with direction to take the design forward. The next steps will include schematic/engineering design work, as well as pursuit of funding to construct the project.

  • City Council Study Session June 4, 2013 Packet
  • Presentation and Open House

    On Thursday, March 14, 2013, the City hosted a well-attended presentation and open house on the conceptual design for the Prairie Line Trail. The event was held at Tacoma Art Museum, Murray Family Event Space. The presentation is available here:

    Prairie Line Trail Open House Presentation - March 14, 2013


    The City of Tacoma is engaged in a public planning and design process for the Prairie Line corridor, a conversion of the former Prairie Line rail corridor into a pedestrian/bicycle corridor and linear park through the heart of Downtown Tacoma. The City received a $465,000 grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council to fund the design and preliminary engineering of the trail. The public design process will run from June 2012 through the middle of 2013. Subsequently, the City will seek funding for construction, predicated on the successful conclusion of the land donation from Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to the City.  

    Scope of Work

    The project area is an approximately one-mile segment of the historic rail corridor, beginning at the south end of downtown, running through the Brewery District, University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) campus, crossing Tollefson Plaza and Pacific Avenue, running adjacent to the Tacoma Art Museum, and then arriving via the South 15th Street ramp at the Thea Foss waterfront. UWT is designing the trail through their campus (South 17th Street to South 21st Street). The City’s effort pertains to the segments to the north (Dock Street to 17th Street) and south (South 21st Street to South 25th Street) of the UWT campus.  

    The Prairie Line Trail is a significant opportunity for Tacoma. The rail corridor is historically significant as the first transcontinental railroad connection to the Puget Sound, which shaped the early development of the City. It’s conversion into a public space provides an exceptional opportunity to create a truly distinctive public asset. The Prairie Line is envisioned as a major economic development catalyst for the revitalization of the Historic Brewery District, a unifying feature connecting different districts of Downtown Tacoma, and a pedestrian/bicycle gateway to Downtown and the Foss Waterfront.


    There are several ways to learn about and participate in the project. The schedule below provides dates for public workshops and meetings. City staff welcomes questions and comments at any time. This webpage will be regularly updated, and you can also request to receive regular email updates as the project moves forward.  

    In addition, the City is actively engaging with stakeholders and adjacent landowners. The City has convened a stakeholders group to guide the design process. We are also reaching out to property owners along the corridor, in recognition of their unique stake in the project. Planning and design will be coordinated with the design of the UWT segment of the trail; the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Design; the Tacoma Art Museum’s Plaza redesign; the City’s South Downtown Subarea Plan; and, other efforts.

    Prairie Line Trail Planning and Design: 2012-2013 

    October - November 2012 - Work Plan, Data Needs, Inventory   
    November - December - 2012 Analysis Opportunity Constraints    
    January - March 2013 - Concept Alternatives 
    March - May 2013 - Concept Refinement & Public Outreach 
    June - July 2013 - Schematic Design
    Public Workshops and Council Dates: Public Workshop on Concept Alternatives
    Tacoma Art Museum
    March 14, 2013
    5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

    City Council Environment and Public Works Committee
    Room 16
    March 27, 2013
    4 PM- 6 PM 

    City Council Study Session
    Tacoma Municipal Building North
    Room 16 
    May 21, 2013
    12 PM

    Second Public Workshop on Selected Design
    Location TBD
    June (date TDB)

    Contact staff for other meeting and presentation dates.

    South 21st Street Crossing

    The crossing at South 21st Street is challenging due to the traffic volumes, grades, site lines for vehicles, and other factors. With the Prairie Line Trail and the growth of UWT campus and the Brewery District, it is especially important to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and comfort. To that end, in 2012 the City conducted analysis of alternatives for enhancing the crossing, and conducted extensive outreach with the public and stakeholders. The City has now selected a phased approach for enhancing pedestrian and bicycle crossing at South 21st Street. This approach is summarized in the presentations linked below.
    Environment and Public Works Committee 12-12-12 Presentation - December 12, 2012
    Prairie Line Trail & South 21st Street Crossing Alternatives Evaluation, Fehr, and Peers - June 2012

    Background information

    Prairie Line Presentation February 4, 2013
    Prairie Line Trail Project Map
    Prairie Line Trail Steering Committee
    Prairie Line Trail - UWT Station
    Prairie Line Trail Art Plan
    South Downtown Subarea Plan and EIS Project

    Staff Contact

    Sue O'Neill
    Assistant Special Projects Division Manager
    (253) 591-5789

    Diane Wiatr
    Active Transportation Coordinator
    (253) 591-5380

    Elliott Barnett
    Associate Planner
    (253) 591-5389