City Council approves additional $120K for Spanish Steps

Tacoma City Council voted Nov. 30 to approve a purchase resolution that directs an additional $120,000 toward the rehabilitation of Spanish Steps in downtown Tacoma.

The money will be used to demolish and replace the upper stairs; provide additional repairs to newels, posts, and railings beyond the original scope of work; and install a drainage system to direct storm water away from the stairs and landing, according to supporting documents. The original $399,920 contract was awarded to Pease Construction, Inc. of Lakewood in June. The additional funding brings the total contract to $519,992 (not including sales tax) and come from the City’s Public Works Street Special Revenue Fund, which is reimbursable by Washington State Department of Transportation Puget Sound Regional Council grant.

“What a wonderful project that turned out to be,” said Tacoma City Councilmember David Boe before council voted. “I use the Spanish steps if not once a day, probably more, especially running between my office and the municipal building. Phenomenal.”

Located near South Seventh Street and Broadway, Spanish Steps was built in 1916 and connects Commerce Street to Broadway. Shoddy patchwork, deferred maintenance, and vandalism have contributed to its decline over the past 60 years. Decorative urns have been toppled and smashed. Several years ago, a driver lost control of his vehicle and drove down the steps. And police officers have long complained the steps serve as an entry point for homeless people seeking shelter inside the adjacent and abandoned Elks Temple building.

On Nov. 15, the City announced on its Twitter feed that Spanish Steps in the Old City Hall historic district had re-opened after being closed for renovation and rehabilitation. The City received nine bids for the project ranging from $394,992 to $772,694.

In May 2007, the City received a Transportations Enhancement grant totalling $944,000 from the Washington State Department of Transportation for design and repair work. Additional federal funding brings the total purse to $1.2 million. The overall project aims to repair, restore, or replace the urns, baluster, newels, post, railing and streetlights along the staircase, and install pedestrian furnishings, signage, and a new retaining wall to support the steps.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of the Spanish Steps, click here:

City Council to consider additional $120K for Spanish Steps (11/29/10) —

Spanish Steps 2.0 (11/17/10) —

Moving forward on Spanish Steps rehab (08/24/10) —

Contractor selected for Spanish Steps rehab (05/20/10) —

Opening doors to history (05/03/10) —

Open Houses this weekend for historic sites competing for preservation grants (04/28/10) —

Tacoma’s Spanish Steps to vie for $125K historic preservation grant (04/15/10) —

Tacoma moves closer to Spanish Steps rehab (04/01/10) —

The Notes of Spanish Steps (09/30/09) —

Momentum continues for Spanish Steps rehabilitation (07/27/07) —