After 26 months, two bid processes, and countless hours of public meetings, City of Tacoma officials finally broke ground Tuesday on the Broadway Local Improvement District (LID).
The 18-month, $10.9 million project will bring streetscape and infrastructure improvements to an area downtown that stretches north to south between So. 2nd St. and So. 9th St., and east to west between Market St. and Broadway. When it’s completed in December 2009, officials say, visitors to the area will experience an “urban village” environment with reconstruction and repair of sidewalks; ornamental street lighting and landscaping; construction of surface water, wastewater and water main utility replacement; and the undergrounding of overhead utility wires.
It will also take less time to complete the project than it did for City Council to approve it and host Tuesday’s dirt-turning ceremony. It’s a point that wasn’t lost on Deputy Mayor Spiro Manthou.
“We finally made it,” said Manthou. “This has been one of those tough ones. It really tested not only the council, but it tested all the residents and developers.”
City Council approved an ordinance April 18, 2006, that created the LID. What followed were months of public meetings and a couple votes of property owners to gauge their support of the project; property owners in the LID will pay for a portion of the project.
Initially, the LID was slated to be completed by Northwest Cascade Inc., a contractor who put forward an $11.9 million bid. However, on Aug. 28, 2007, City Council voted unanimously against awarding the contract. Seven months later, the City re-bid the project. In April, council approved a $10.9 million purchase resolution with contractor Wm. Dickson, Inc.
“In spite of some rough patches, we’re finally to the point where we are ready,” said Public Works project manager Jim Parvey. “It’s really been a model of a collaborative effort between the neighborhood, private utilities, and the city. A lot of work has been accomplished both in front of and behind the scenes. [It has required] great partners, all of which have been pulling together to find solutions.
“I believe the final product will be worth the effort getting there,” added Parvey.
According to the City of Tacoma, construction will occur in four phases over the next 18 months, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The first phase, which will be completed late this fall, extends from So. 7th St. towards So. 2nd St. The second phase, which will begin in October, will occur on Market St., between So. 9th St. and So. 7th St. The third phase will begin in April 2009, and will occur on Broadway between So. 9th St. and So. 7th St. Finally, the last phase will begin in July 2009, and occur on St. Helens between So. 9th St. and So. 7th St.
Though local street access will be provided at all times, city officials say area visitors and residents should expect traffic delays. In some areas, parking will be temporarily eliminated.
For more information, visit the City of Tacoma’s Broadway LID Web site at http://www.cityoftacoma.org/broadwaylid .
“This is one of those defining moments for Tacoma, and especially this district,” said Deputy Mayor Manthou. “Much needed infrastructure improvements are going to happen. The area will definitely be a destination for people to come, eat, play, and live.”