Coming to an Intersection Near You: Crosswalks!

Last year residents frustrated with Tacoma's pedestrian infrastructure (or maybe with the lack-thereof) expressed themselves in a way that City Manager TC Broadnax and others found unacceptable. The guerrilla crosswalks provoked threats of legal action, and brought out City street grinders, which (mostly) wiped away the unsanctioned street markings.

The conversation sparked by the illicit street markings and other citizen complaints seems to have had a more productive outcome. The City has allocated $2.5 million from its General Fund for a new Pedestrian Crossings Improvement Project to identify, evaluate, and construct pedestrian crosswalks and associated facilities across Tacoma. More specifically, about $300,000 will go to each of Tacoma's five council districts, and another $1 million will go to improvements in downtown Tacoma, to improve connectivity there.

The main focus of the project will be the installation of marked crosswalks, but associated improvements will be considered as well, including curb ramp and sidewalk construction, curbing and drainage improvements, limited paving, pedestrian activated crossing beacons, and accessibility upgrades at existing traffic signals.

How will Public Works decide which intersections will get the improvements? The decisions will be based in part on community priorities, as identified by both stakeholder groups including City commissions and citizen advisory groups, and through a series of public meetings. The City has already begun meeting with stakeholder groups, and is working on scheduling one meeting for each Council district to gather input on crossing improvement needs.

At last week's Council meeting, Councilmember Thoms shared that the meeting for his district was coming up on March 24, but so far we haven't seen a full schedule of meetings for the rest of Tacoma.

So, $300,000 for your neighborhood, plus $1 million for downtown connections - where would you like to see it spent?

UPDATED: Here's the list of upcoming "Talk the Walk" public meetings - your chance to tell the City where pedestrian crossing improvements are needed in Tacoma (read the full press release here):

Monday, March 24 - District 2 - Center at Norpoint Cascade Room - 4818 Nassau Ave. N.E. 
Wednesday, March 26 - District 4 - Blix Elementary Library - 1302 E. 38th St. 
Monday, March 31 - District 5 - Birney Elementary Library - 1202 S. 76th St.
Wednesday, April 2 - District 3 - Tacoma Public Utilities Building Auditorium - 3628 S. 35th St.
Wednesday, April 9 - Downtown - Main Library Branch - 1102 Tacoma Ave. S.
Thursday, April 10 - District 1 - Wilson High School Library - 1202 North Orchard St.

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Elizabeth Burris

The Dowtown Crosswalk Meeting will be at The Tacoma Downtown Library
April 9th
6-7 pm
Sponsored by the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council and Downtown on the Go

March 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.

March 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

I’ll summarize this story:

Tacoma’s discontents figure out how to make a mountain out of a molehill.

March 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Lincoln district on the corner of S.38Th St. and S.Thompson Ave.  That is a major corner in this city, yet it looks neglected.  If fixed, it could attract more business, it would also help the new business currently there where Jubilee’s used to be.

March 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Division and I.

March 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Yakima and Division in front of the Shell station.  This is the main entry point for the north end of Wright Park, and it’s pretty sad.

March 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tim Smith

One Million MORE downtown??? Crossings needed at S 56sth Street and S Lawrence Street, and finish connecting the Water Flume Bike trail Crossing near St Clement and 56th.  This area is a danger zone for the elderly and slow walkers.

March 11, 2014 at 5:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I thought Fred Davies really cared about the disabled? And where’s the NoArmsVet to advocate for better ADA access, to the whole city… I guess accessibility for those folks is limited to vehicular access within a park.

March 11, 2014 at 10:05 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Fred Davie

James this effort is unaffordable and takes city funds away from truly critical areas of responsibility. My appeal to keep Pt. Defiance accessible to the handicapped doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.

March 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Vehicular access and handicap access are two entirely different things.

March 12, 2014 at 10:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Crosswalks are not critical?  My God that’s rich.  Cities get sued into the ground over crosswalk related accidents.  It is both about the city being pedestrian friendly and also staving off huge liabilities in not being compliant.

March 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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While we’re at it, can we please stop putting in crosswalks that you have to press a button to activate?  They are so frustrating, and one always ends up waiting another light cycle because the button wasn’t pressed just in time. It seems reasonable to me that crosswalks should automatically illuminate, like the crosswalks one finds downtown. Even as an able bodied person with good eyesight, I find the buttons often hard to access, or out of my path of travel. I’m not suggesting an overhaul of all the crosswalks in Tacoma, but if we’re putting in new ones already, that would be so wonderful! Thanks for the meeting info, Elizabeth.

March 12, 2014 at 10:05 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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City of Tacoma

You can provide feedback and see the full schedule of meeting dates on the City’s website at

March 13, 2014 at 10:07 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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