Work on the Prairie Line Trail – UW Tacoma Station, the linear urban park that will run through campus from 17th to 21st streets, has started. Construction fencing has been installed all along the path of the former BNSF Railway track that saw its last rail service in 2003.
When the Prairie Line Trail project is completed early next year, the campus will be transformed with new open space that uniquely integrates into the existing campus design. This is the first portion of a planned trail for pedestrians and bicyclists that will extend through south downtown, from the Thea Foss Waterway to the Brewery District. It may ultimately stretch from Point Defiance Park and connect to Lakewood, Orting and beyond.
Besides the park and the trail, the project will improve stormwater management and plant more than 50 new trees. The trail will also include a long-planned memorial sculpture for the Japanese Language School, designed by Northwest artist Gerard Tsutakawa.
The first phase of the trail project includes removing topsoil that was exposed to 130 years of railroad activity. Construction work on the trail is expected to be complete in late Spring 2014.
At the same time, the university is also doing work to repair damage to the upper section of the Grand Stairs. This project will close the Grand Stairs between Jefferson and Commerce streets from now until August 31. Metro Coffee, located off the Grand Stairs in the Tioga Building, remains open and accessible during construction.