The project took nearly five years of planning and fundraising, but Tacoma finally has a dock where seaplanes can tie up.
The new dock at the mouth of the Thea Foss Waterway near downtown was formally dedicated at noon Wednesday. Two seaplanes, one individually owned, and the other from the nation’s largest seaplane airline, Kenmore Air, arrived to celebrate the dock’s inaugural.
Tacoma Deputy Mayor Marty Campbell said the new dock was another step in making Tacoma “a world-class city” with amenities befitting that status.
Until the new dock was installed near Thea’s Park on the west side of the waterway, pilots had no easy place where they could load passengers. Conventional docks are unsuitable for seaplane use because the pilings to which they’re secured are too close to the dockside to allow the planes’ wings to clear.
The new dock is attached outboard of an existing dock on the Foss, creating an unobstructed area for the wings.
The dock was a joint project of the Tacoma Waterfront Association and the Foss Waterway Development Authority. The association raised private funds to rehabilitate and modify a used dock donated by Tacoma’s Marine Floats Inc. The authority provided planning funding and a site for the dock.
The dock is situated so that it can be relocated if weather on the bay end of the Foss becomes too rough during a storm or when the dock to which it is attached is needed for a waterside event.
The only other seaplane float in Pierce County is located on American Lake.
Craig O’Neill, director of flight administration for Kenmore Air, said the new dock will open up new opportunities for charter flights from Tacoma.