Construction begins on Point Defiance Park waterfront revamp

Construction is under way this week on the first phase of a major project at Point Defiance Park that aims...

Construction is under way this week on the first phase of a major project at Point Defiance Park that aims to create a more accessible, active, and thriving waterfront, according to City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma officials.

A project cornerstone is the 5,500-square-foot Point Defiance Regional Treatment Facility, an innovative water treatment system designed to improve Puget Sound water quality. The facility features a series of six cascading pools that will channel runoff from streets and properties as far south as North 30th Street. Currently, polluted stormwater from the 754-acre watershed flows untreated before it spills into the Sound near Point Defiance Marina. That will change this winter, when the new facility is finished.

“You should see water moving through the system every time it rains,” said City of Tacoma engineer Jessica Knickerbocker. According to Knickerbocker, City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma officials began to explore the idea of building a treatment facility on park land four years ago in anticipation of changes along the waterfront. Knickerbocker researched several options, and the City received grant funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

“As far as we know, it’s never been done at this scale,” added Metro Parks Tacoma capitol projects manager Roger Stanton.

The first phase of the project will also create a larger vehicle/trailer parking area, an elevated walkway linking Ruston Way to Point Defiance Park, and a new 11-acre park on the peninsula (pictured below).

During construction, Point Defiance Park visitors may encounter occasional traffic disruptions caused by dirt-hauling trucks. According to City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma officials, the equivalent of about 150 dirt-hauling trucks per day will be working in the area this summer and fall, moving 100,000 cubic yards of dirt. Visitors may see construction workers flagging traffic to help get trucks in and out of the site.

Additionally, the project will reduce some of the parking area near the Pearl Street entrance, to the east of the ferry road. Most of the space is used for boat trailer parking in the summer. Directional signs will be used when possible to help people trying to use the lots. As the stormwater facility and several related projects advance, parking arrangements will be revised. Metro Parks Tacoma has contacted boating and fishing groups, will provide fliers with parking suggestions, and will reach out to park visitors in other ways, according to City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma officials.

The work is part of Destination Point Defiance, a broad and long-term initiative that will create a new aquarium and environmental learning center at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, viewpoint upgrades, and more improvements for Point Defiance Park. The 2014 capital bond measure is the catalyst for these improvements, which are also funded by Washington State taxpayers, the Asarco settlement, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Fund.

More information about Destination Point Defiance is available online at


To read the Tacoma Daily Indexs complete and comprehensive coverage of Point Defiance Park, click on the following links:

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