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Point Defiance Waterfront project taking shape

Credit: Thomasseau, Allison
(Photo Credit: Metro Parks Tacoma)

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TACOMA, Wash.-- Metro Parks of Tacoma shared an update and a glimpse of what's to come on the waterfront project at Point Defiance Park.

On Saturday, Metro Parks of Tacoma shared a video of progress done by construction crews, as well as artist sketches of the $60 million project to transform the once-polluted Superfund site.

The sketches show an elevated pedestrian and bike bridge that will connect the waterfront to Point Defiance Park. The bridge will be about 600-foot long, 18-foot wide and, at its highest point, 50 feet above ground. The bridge will have stunning views of both Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.

“When you’re standing out there you’ll have more than 180-degree view of the sound. You’ll be able to see back towards Owen Beach. You’ll be able to see all the way towards Mount Rainier and downtown Tacoma, all of Point Ruston and then, of course, the peninsula, the boat basin," said Roger Stanton, project administrator for Metro Parks Tacoma. "It’s gonna be amazing. It’s gonna be beautiful.”

PHOTOS: Point Defiance Waterfront Renovations

The project is scheduled to be finished sometime in 2018. In the meantime, locals in the neighborhood can expect traffic delays and noise pollution from the ongoing construction, says Stanton. Starting Monday night, crews will be moving the first of 10 girders in place for the bridge.

Metro Parks of Tacoma embarked on a project to transform the Tacoma ASARCO Superfund site into a public waterfront site in late 2015. Since then, crews have moved over 400,000 cubic yards of dirt - the equivalent of 22,000 trucks and trailers - off the site.

With the dirt moved, Stanton noted the trail connecting the waterfront to Point Defiance Park is taking form. Future construction will involve further installment of the pier, a new parking lot for the yacht club, and completion of the park on the peninsula.

For the neighborhood, it’s a sign of progress.

"It's a draw. It's beautiful. There's no other waterfront like this in this area," said Beth Torbet, who runs Don’s Ruston Market and Deli with her husband.

She could see the smokestack of the ASARCO copper smelter from the window of their corner market in Ruston when they bought it in 1983, Torbet said. The workers used to buy sandwiches at the market before it closed for good in 1985.

"It was a struggle for our town. They took away our tax base, but we persevered," said Torbet. "They processed copper. It was during the war. That's what they needed. Yeah, it left a mess. Every era’s got its thing to clean up. What are we leaving for our kids?”

To complement the development, Pierce Transit is also testing out a new route to get to Point Defiance. It will be a reduced fare trolley that will be up and running by summer.

The investment brings a sense a hope for those who have weathered some of the worst storms of this town.
"It’s pride. I mean it's beautiful,” said Torbet.

For more information, visit Metro Parks Tacoma - Destination Point Defiance.

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