Northwest News

Tacoma Council OKs more land for Prairie Line Trail through downtown

The width of one portion of the Prairie Line Trail in downtown Tacoma will double now that the City Council approved a land purchase Tuesday.

Now overgrown with grasses and weeds, the narrow strip of land runs northeast for a couple of blocks from Pacific Avenue between the United Way of Pierce County and the Tacoma Art Museum. Its purchase will cost Tacoma $302,400 to be paid out of proceeds from the city’s tax on the sale of real estate.

The parcel will be added to a 20-foot-wide strip between downtown Tacoma’s South 15th and 26th streets, said Jennifer Hines, an assistant division manager with the city of Tacoma’s Public Works Department. The city acquired the existing piece of property last year from Burlington Northern Santa Fe after seven years of negotiation.

The additional land is worth nearly $1.1 million, according to a memo to the council from Public Works. BNSF will donate $757,500 of the value of the parcel to the city.

City project manager Chris Storey said the piece will become “a park-like extension of the trail.”

Plans unveiled a couple of years ago suggest the area next to the United Way building could be developed into a tree-lined art park.

City Councilman Robert Thoms called the acquisition “exciting” because the city can now pursue other funding for future phases of the trail.

The linear trail follows the original path that Northern Pacific Railroad took to reach saltwater in 1873. When complete, different sections of the trail will pay homage to the area’s history. The state’s capital budget could bolster that effort with $400,000 set aside for a “historic interpretation project” on the trail.

A section of the trail through the University of Washington Tacoma campus opened last fall. City planners said last year that the section by United Way could be open by this summer.