Eight dignitaries ceremoniously shoveled a spade full of soil Tuesday morning at South Park signifying the beginning of construction of Tacoma’s newest multi-purpose trail.
About 40 people, a third of whom where Spandex clad cyclists, where on hand for the 30-minute celebration of the Water Ditch Trail which will link Lakewood and downtown Tacoma.
MILES: Construction has begun on phase 1, two sections of the trail covering about 2 miles. When the trail is complete it will be 6 ½ miles.
SURFACE: The trail will be a 14-foot wide asphalt path with rock shoulders. According to a statement from the City of Tacoma the trail will include Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramps and crossings. Pedestrian activated traffic lights will be installed at some intersections.
LOCATION: The trail will eventually run from the Tacoma Dome area to about 80th Street and South Tacoma Way. Phase 1 will pave sections between 48th and 56th streets and 60th and 72nd streets.
HISTORY: The trail will follow the path of the 1896 Water Ditch Trail that crossed Tacoma. Several trail advocates including Dana Brown of the city’s engineering department, former Tacoma urban planner Scott Pierson and Bob Myrick of the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club have been working on building the trail for 20 years. Pierson, who dedicated his 23-year career to building a network of bike paths and lanes around Tacoma, died in 2001.
THE VISION: Myrick says he’d like to see the trail eventually link to the year-old Scott Pierson Trail which runs along Highway 16 from the Allenmore Golf Course over the Narrows Bridge. The trail could also link to a future trail on the Prairie Line rail bed which runs across the University of Washington-Tacoma campus.
TIMEFRAME: While Phase 1 could be done in November if weather permits, it’s unclear when Phase 2 will start. "Don’t expect it to be done in six months," Tacoma Councilwoman Connie Ladenberg said during Tuesday’s ceremony. "It depends on funding."
COST: Phase 1 will cost $660,000 for construction and an additional $280,000 for engineering and design, Brown said. It was paid for without the benefit of grants. Phase 2 will cost an estimated $980,000 and the city is currently applying for a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.