Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 11, 2010 at 12:31am

Tacoma City Council To Decide Fate of Waterfront Esplanade Tuesday



Tacoma's Waterfront has been cleaned up and redeveloped in bursts and stops over the last 10 years. In some  years, much progress is made while the waterfront has languished in other years.



On Tuesday, January 12th, the Tacoma City Council will vote on whether to approve a contract to expand the esplanade/walkway on the waterfront which they tabled last week.

Many Tacomans, including those from Walk the Waterfront have long advocated that the City of Tacoma complete a continuous walkway around the waterfront with public access as many other cities have:

For over 60 years Tacomans have dreamed of a pedestrian walkway along the water, from the head of the Thea Foss to the beach and trails of Point Defiance.

To bring the dream to life we've formed Walk the Waterfront, a nonprofit organization dedicated to a continuous, accessible, vibrant path along those seven miles. We see so many opportunities emphasizing healthy lifestyles, recreation, business, conservation, culture and history.




On January 4th, the City Council had before them a proposal to award a contract to:

...for the Foss Harbor Esplanade Site 11 project, including a 304-foot esplanade with lighting, railing, and park benches, and the installition of 32 new piles to support the esplanade.

According to a memorandum by the Public Works Department, Tacoma has already spend $400,000 to begin the "permitting and design" for the project.

In response to questions by city council members, staff points out that a number of permits are set to expire if the contract is not approved soon:

Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) - expires 2012

Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area (FWHCA) Development Permit - expires 2014;

Army Corp of Engineers Permit - expiration February 15, 2010 (fish window permit).




Because some citizens and groups will always favor one contractor obtaining city contracts over another, objective criteria is set out by the State of Washington and the City of Tacoma as to the relevant factors that should be used in selecting contractors so as to not award contacts based on favoritism.

In the present case, the lowest bidding contractor appears to have met all of the objective standards set out by the city and under state law.

Because contracts should not be awarded based on popularity, the city should proceed with the contract and take the steps needed to build more of Tacoma's waterfront esplanade and complete other waterfront enhancements.

comments [20]  |  posted under Tacoma


by Erik on 1/11/2010 @ 1:28am
Extra information: the contractor's reponse to the questions raised is in the City manager report linked above.

by Chris.Tacoma on 1/11/2010 @ 6:10am
You know, Walk the Waterfront is included as a project under the Puget Sound Regional Council's 2040 plan. Like an extension of Tacoma Link, Walk the Waterfront could be funded by a Transportation Benefit District, should Council choose to form one.

The Water Ditch Trail is also another one of those 2040 projects, as is bus rapid transit along Pacific Avenue.

If Council is worried about the money, they should create a TBD to deal with it. This is a worthy project. The legislature established this authority for a reason. Tacoma should use it.

by KevinFreitas on 1/11/2010 @ 7:11am
Where exactly is this expansion of the waterfront esplanade suppose to be?

by fredo on 1/11/2010 @ 8:18am
In just the last 6 weeks our city council has spent or obligated the city to spend approximately $55,000,0000. What is the price tag of this new priority? Why isn't it paid for by abutting property owners like the city sidewalks? Don't the abutting property owners stand the most to gain from such improvements? Is there money in the budget to maintain an esplanade in perpetuity or is this going to be another "improvement" that's ripped out in 20 years because of neglect?

by Erik on 1/11/2010 @ 9:14am
Where exactly is this expansion of the waterfront esplanade suppose to be?

Here is what I found:

Construction Project Details

The City is involved in a number of active construction projects around Tacoma. Check this pagefor information about major projects, such as the D Street Overpass project near the Thea Foss Waterway and the Central Treatment Plant upgrade and expansion project.

This page and its subsections will be updated as information changes during these projects.

Project Name: Site 11 Esplanade (Foss Harbor)
Contact (Phone): Darius Thompson (573-2410)
Estimated Cost: Unknown
Description: The Site 11 Esplanade project will construct a 350' long esplanade, with lighting and railing on City owned property along the west side of the Thea Foss Waterway. This project is a part of a mixed use development project on the North end of the Thea Foss

Task Name Start Date Finish Date

Planning 2/1/2007 7/18/2008
Design 7/21/2008 11/17/2008
Advertising and Award 12/4/2009 1/22/2010
Construction 1/25/2010 7/2/2010


by Erik on 1/11/2010 @ 9:20am
Here is a little more detail. Apparently it is around 821 Dock Street:


Foss Harbor Esplanade Site 11
POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 04:12 PM PT
BY: Betty Oden
Bid Date/Time: Nov. 17, 2009, 11 a.m.

Foss Harbor, at 821 Dock St. along the historic Thea Foss Waterway in the Puget Sound area in Washington, is part of a Superfund clean-up site. The Site 11 Esplanade project will include construction of a 350-foot-long esplanade on city-owned property along the west side of the Thea Foss Waterway.

This project is part of a mixed-use development project on the north end of the waterway. Sixty new piles will be driven to support the new esplanade. Thirty concrete piles and 30 steel pipe piles will be driven with an impact pile driver from the shore. The project also includes lighting, railing and park benches.

A pre-bid meeting will be held Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. in Room No. 537 in the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St. in Tacoma, Wash. At the meeting, prospective bidders will be able to ask questions about the project, including special or technical requirements.

Notice to proceed is scheduled for Dec. 29. The estimated cost of the project is between $1 million and $1.3 million.


Pretty cool,

by fredo on 1/11/2010 @ 9:24am
$1.3M would fill a lot of potholes.

by Erik on 1/11/2010 @ 9:27am
Looks like 821 Dock Street is Foss Harbor Marina:

Foss Harbor Marina is located at 821 Dock Street on the historic Thea Foss Waterway in the Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Part of a Superfund clean-up site, Foss Harbor Marina has received a five-star rating from EnviroStars for demonstrating leadership on preventing and recycling waste. We're doing our part to maintain a clean, environmentally-friendly marina for generations to come. At Foss Harbor Marina, we have 402 slips available for boats and boat houses ranging in size from 26 feet to 96 feet.


by morgan on 1/11/2010 @ 11:20am
This project needs to happen. Creating the Foss Waterway Development auhority and cleaning up the waterway has been one of the best things the city has done. We can't stop now.

I thought they had a $1.2 million dollar Federal grant to help with the project. Is that the case?

by Erik on 1/11/2010 @ 12:08pm

I thought they had a $1.2 million dollar Federal grant to help with the project. Is that the case?

Yes, there are the following outside funds that are set to be used if the council approves the project and will be lost if the council fails:

$1,250,000 federal funds through WSDOT
$50,000 Foss Harbor LLC
$70,000 FWDA


by NineInchNachos on 1/11/2010 @ 12:47pm
Yes. Hopefully they will approve and this issue won't have to be a tacomic topic.

by Erik on 1/12/2010 @ 6:38pm
Looks like the Tacoma City Council funded contract restoring 300+ plus feet of the Esplanade!

Thanks to everyone for their help on this issue.

by fredo on 1/13/2010 @ 1:34am
The esplanade will cost in excess of $2000 per lineal foot. And who will be the primary beneficiaries? The local carpenters union and a bunch of people who live at the marina. I'll bet the esplanade is a need and not a want. This city council is even funnier than the last one.

by L.S.Erhardt on 1/13/2010 @ 1:55am
I'm mixed on this one.

On one hand, that's a lot of $ in a time/economy when $ is hard to come by.

But on the other hand, T-Town really needs to work on it's image if we want to keep/attract people/business.

You don't go on a first date wearing a stained sweatshirt, uncombed hair and 8 day's worth of stubble, do you?

by fredo on 1/13/2010 @ 2:04am
So even with our $84M convention center, our $100M Stadium HS, our $84M Mt. Tahoma HS, our 3 major museums, our Chihuly Artwork, our UofW urban campus, our nation's largest city park, our $1B narrows bridge, and our Frisco Freeze, Tacoma is the urban equivalent of a guy going on a date with a stained sweatshirt, uncombed hair and 8 day's worth or stubble?

Where's the love Thorax?

by L.S.Erhardt on 1/13/2010 @ 2:06am
I don't feel we're a 400 lb slob, but the rest of Western WA seems to think so.

by fredo on 1/13/2010 @ 2:11am
Well, in retrospect I guess the $800K sidewalk would be the perfect compliment to Tacoma's $1.5M rental furniture, our new Prius autos for the police department and our $465M school levy. And we're only 12 days into the new year. It's easy to spend someone else's money.

by L.S.Erhardt on 1/13/2010 @ 2:23am
Hey, Fredo... try this on for size: instead of saying "$800K" or "$465M", let's start typing out what those sums really are. K's, M's, B's and T's only lessen the comprehension of just how much we're talking about. The national debt is $12.291T. Doesn't really get the point across like $12,291,449,257,191 does.


That $465,000,000 or so would probably give us better results if we used it to embark on a MASSIVE nation-wide propaganda campaign.

Not just normal advertising, I mean for real propaganda in the media and beyond to improve our image and make T-Town the new "place to be". Pay $750,000 a pop to a few magazines for pro-Tacoma articles, $1,500,000 to the national networks to air some kind of "Tacoma is good" fillers in the fluff parts of their news broadcasts, and so on. The possibilities are endless!

Attract more people & jobs, then by golly, you have more tax $$$. Pretty simple equation, really.

by fredo on 1/13/2010 @ 2:39am
Yes, I guess the extra zeroes would make my postings seem a bit more impressive. Should I also include the decimal point followed by some more zeroes?

by L.S.Erhardt on 1/13/2010 @ 2:41am
Your call, but that is kinda splitting hairs.