The intersection outside Point Defiance Park in Tacoma might possibly be one of the worst intersections in the state, at least in terms of confusion. Multiple lanes from multiple directions, where the neighborhood, meets ferry terminal, meets park.
"It's a cluster," Marty Stump, Design and Construction Manager for Metro Parks Tacoma, said. "You know the folks that have come to the park for a long time, they've learned to live with it. They cope with it and have their strategy, you know, as they move through the intersection."
It's where N. Park Avenue meets N. Park Way meets N. Pearl Street meets Ferry Crossing Landing Road meets N. Waterfront Drive meets Roberts Garden Drive
When the park was built back in the early 20th century, there was a huge monument that people used to drive around. But instead of making that permanent, things were piecemealed along the way.
"There's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight," Stump said, as he counted the number of roads that intersect here at the park entrance.
"We just saw this guy just go into this area, and then reverse into the middle of the intersection. And then go down a different path," said a patron of The Defiant Goldfish, formerly Goldfish Tavern, which has sat on one of the many corners here since the 1930s.
"What are you gonna do, but turn around? Say you made a mistake," said another. "If you're not a local, you don't know what to do."
But that is all going to change later this summer.
"We are simply bringing the park into the 21st century and making it more modern and safe and accessible," Stump said.
That will mean a closing off two roads, diverting a third and putting in a large single-lane roundabout here instead. It's all part of the master plan for the park to improve accessibility for not only drivers but bicyclists and pedestrians. It will also link the park to the Tacoma waterfront.
But timing is everything. They can't close access to the park, or lanes to the ferry, so the contractor will have to figure out how to work around traffic. That could mean building half a roundabout at a time to keep things moving. Weather is another factor.
To minimize the impact on summer activities at the park, construction won't begin until August and will go strong to December. Stump says they hope to wrap things up in time for the heavy crowds expected for Zoolights.
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