Progress continues to realign streets near UW Tacoma

Progress continues on a $2 million public works project in downtown Tacoma that aims to make it a little easier to navigate the streets near the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) campus.

For anyone familiar with the area, South 17th Street is cut off between Broadway and South Commerce Street by a small greenspace, forcing cars and pedestrians to head south on Broadway for a half-block, then backtrack a half-block north on Jefferson Avenue, before reconnecting to South 17th Street.

According to a report prepared by City of Tacoma staff, UWT officials approached City officials in recent years to discuss the idea of turning South 17th Street into a through street. After a series of meetings, a realignment was proposed that would connect the two segments of South 17th Street, preserve a portion of the existing greenspace, and terminate Jefferson Avenue at Broadway. The two groups drafted an agreement where the City would manage the project, while UWT would pay for most of the project.

In December 2013, Tacoma City Council approved a resolution allowing the City to enter into a development agreement with UWT. The City put the project out for bid last summer. Two contractors submitted bids: R. L. Alia Company (Renton, Wash. — $2,054,449.50 to $2,002,149.50); and Northwest Cascade (Tacoma, Wash. — $1,798,705.50 to $1,643,440.50). In October, Tacoma City Council approved a purchase resolution awarding a contract to Northwest Cascade.

When completed later this spring, the project will extend South 17th Street from Broadway to Commerce Street; realign the intersection of Jefferson Avenue, Broadway, and South 17th Street; improve pedestrian amenities; construct a reinforced concrete wall, new sidewalk, bulb-outs, and ADA ramps; remove and replace asphalt and concrete pavements; and add new channelization, crosswalks, street lights, and a raised mid-block crossing, according to a legal notice published last year in the Tacoma Daily Index. The project will also include significant utility work, such as a new storm drain system; a 60-inch diameter storm transmission segment; and a water supply main replacement.

The Tacoma Daily Index reached out this week to City Project Manager Darius Thompson for an update on the project, but he did not respond to our request. On Tuesday morning, the Index spoke with a construction foreman on-site who said stripes still needed to be painted on the roadways, and he expected the area would re-open “within a week or so, depending on the weather.” Additionally, the most recent update to the City’s project Web site notes the contractor spent last week “working on temporary lighting and miscellaneous project closeout items.”

More information about the project is available online here.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index’s complete and comprehensive coverage of the South 17th Street realignment project, click on the following links: