Friends of the Prairie Line Trail

Work on the Prairie Line Trail is beginning to gather steam. In December the City was awarded grant funding to move forward with the section of the trail connecting UWT to the Foss Waterway, and this week the University of Washington Tacoma has released a call for bids for work on the Prairie Line Trail - UWT Station.

We wrote last September about delays on both the City and University sides of the project, including unsatisfactory bid response for the UWT section, and a protracted conversation with BNSF about what it will take to acquire the full width of the right-of-way from the railroad for the City side. The City is still in discussions with BNSF - discussions that have been going on for years now - but a portion of a $2 milion award to the City of Tacoma from the Puget Sound Regional Council will allow work to move forward on the section of the trail that the City does own. And the University is moving forward with its own plans. 

As all this gets underway, a group of supporters of the project is gathering as well. The Friends of the Prairie Line Trail will be an independent core group of citizens dedicated to supporting the development of the trail into a safe, attractive, active part of downtown Tacoma.

The group will include individuals interested in non-motorized transportation options, active lifestyles, Tacoma's history and that of the Prairie Line Trail, and those excited about the potential of the trail to activate public space in downtown Tacoma. The call for interested individuals describes the desired attributes of the group: 

  • Community based 
  • Self-sustaining 
  • Non-profit 
  • Act as docents of the trail (tell the story) 
  • Promote continued development of the trail 
  • Promote connections to other alternative transportation trails and options 
  • Promote and organize activities and events along the trail 
  • Ensure the continued use and vibrancy of the PLT 
  • Long-term organization that will outlive its’ members 
  • Independent of both the University and the City. 
  • Focused on the Trail, its history, activities and connectivity. 
  • Affiliated with The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition 

The group is looking for leaders to participate in the development of goals, objectives, mission statement, and strategic planning for the organization going forward. 

Other projects around Tacoma have benefited from the work of "friends of ..." groups. Chinese Reconciliation Park Foundation, for example, has done a lot of work in support of the waterfront park, and that work has paid off with a pretty nice park, which acknowledges Tacoma's history, and looks to the future. 

The Prairie Line Trail has its own story to tell, with many moving parts - the history of the rail; of the people who lived and worked in the area, including Tacoma's early Japanese community; the revitalization of the area with UWT; and before all that, the native populations and natural beauty that was there when the rails finally met the water in Tacoma. Looking forward, the project has the potential to bring a whole new kind of space to downtown Tacoma. Oh the possibilities...

If you're excited by the potential of the trail that will run through Tacoma's downtown, connecting the city's waterfront to a whole network of regional trails, you can still get in on the early work of the core group of supporters. Contact Milt Tremblay, Director of Physical Planning and Sustainability at UW Tacoma: (253) 692-4754 or e-mail:

Who's in?

Read more previously from Exit133 on the Prairie Line Trail.

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