Tacoma breaks ground on Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project

City of Tacoma officials Monday celebrated the start of the first phase of construction of the Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project with a groundbreaking ceremony at Fireman’s Park in downtown Tacoma. The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Tacoma Art Museum.

The Pacific Avenue Streetscape project encompasses the entire Pacific Avenue right of way from South 7th to South 17th Street. It will include beautification and innovative stormwater improvements to help revitalize and reinvigorate our downtown core to provide business investment opportunities and enhance livability. Upon completion, new features will include sidewalks, street lighting, paving, shared roadway bicycle markings (sharrows), green stormwater infrastructure such as rain gardens and landscaping and wayfinding signage.

The Pacific Avenue Streetscape project will cost $10.2 million and has been funded primarily by state and federal grants totaling $7.1 million. The grants include: Federal Highways 2010 Surface Transportation Priorities (STP) Grant for $799,863; Federal Highways 2011 Transportation Community & System Preservation (TCSP) Grant at $978,300; Washington State Public Works Board 2012 Jobs Now Act Grant for $3 million and the Pierce County Regional Council Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Grant totaling $800,000.

In addition, the City received a $1.5 million Environmental Protection Agency State and Tribal Assistance Grant federal appropriation for the stormwater enhancements. This grant was received as a result of a Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations request led by Congressman Norm Dicks with support from the congressional delegation. The grant requires a City match from the Surface Water fund of an additional $1.5 million. This funding will be used for stormwater improvements including 14 rain gardens along Pacific Avenue to allow runoff from this corridor to be treated before it is discharged to the Thea Foss Waterway. The rain gardens will also incorporate public art features to enhance the public spaces.

A portion of stormwater funding will also be used to plant street trees along the corridor in “Silva Cells.” Silva cells are a structure, built under the road and sidewalk, which provides support for the road and sidewalks while allowing the underlying soils to remain uncompacted. These cells will generate healthier trees, with greater longevity and reduced impact to sidewalks and roads. These Silva Cells are the first installed in Tacoma.

Other funding sources for the project include the Street Special Revenue Fund 1060 ($50,898); Real Estate Excise Tax Fund 3211 ($195,461); the 2010 LTGO Bond D Fund ($200,000 for the first phase of wayfinding signage); and the 2010 LTGO Bond D Fund ($1.25 million for construction contingency).

The City will hold ongoing public meetings and implement a comprehensive communications effort throughout the construction period to update the community on the progress of the project. A construction kick-off open house will be held on Weds., Nov. 7 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, Tacoma Municipal Building first floor, located at 747 Market Street.

More information is online at cityoftacoma.org/pacave.