Pacific Avenue was the quintessential "main street" at the turn of the century. Here, the end of the Transcontinental Railroad met the waterway. The Pacific Avenue Streetscape project was designed to build on the history and geography that makes Tacoma unique, while leading the community into a sustainable future with a thriving downtown. The project transformed the main thoroughfare of Tacoma's downtown core with the goals of attracting new economic development opportunities and providing a complete street for more modes of travel.
The project was completed in November 2013. Designs included a retrofit of 3,696 LF of existing roadway to improve water quality through the use of innovative stormwater treatment facilities. The project area included the entire Pacific Avenue right-of-way from South 7th to South 17th Street and featured: new sidewalks; custom overhead street lighting; 11 new wayfinding signs; paving; bike sharrows; green stormwater infrastructure, including 14 new rain gardens and Silva Cells; and new landscaping, including 129 trees, 817 shrubs and over 3,000 new plants.
The new stormwater surface features along Pacific Avenue not only improve water quality flowing to the Foss Waterway, but also provide a beautiful landscape amenity. AHBL selected a planting palette that will be visually interesting during all seasons, but also require minimal maintenance. The gardens feature about 100 granite pieces from the city’s old curbs, which have been stored at the landfill. In some of the rain gardens, the stormwater will be used as an artistic feature to flow in rills or spill over rock to provide animation and interest to pedestrians. During dry times, the rain gardens are designed to look like planted gardens.
Ongoing public dialogue was vital to the success of the project. The Tacoma community played a key role in the project through a broadly-based communications program, including:
- Bi-monthly public meetings;
- Project presentations to interested groups;
- Web-based project comments; and
- One-on-one conversations with Pacific Avenue merchants for the duration of the project to provide project information about construction phasing and operations.