Imagine Tacoma – Climbing the Hill #1

With the Broadway/St. Helens LID Project nearing completion, and as the City looks to implement a Complete Streets policy, there is still the challenge of navigating up and down the ‘numbered’ streets in Downtown. Just take a continuous walk from Pacific Avenue up to Tacoma Avenue on a number of your choice, and I guarantee you that you will be much more attuned to your physical state than a comparable distance at the Tacoma Mall (try 7th sometime – whew). So imagine providing good pedestrian connections within the core – even with significant terrain – that give ‘hope’ for development (or redevelopment) up the hill from Pacific Avenue:

South 11th Street:
Connecting Thea Foss to Market Street.

North Side Sidewalk:
Locate a wider sidewalk along the North side of the street – thus allowing for pedestrian climbers to be ‘in the sun’ (when it is out like it was on Wednesday).

Good Surface Traction:
Enough of the cute sidewalk patterns and insets brick pavers (or similar – are these purposely meant to be slippery when wet?). These hillside walks need to have a rough surface concrete finish with step grooves to provide the greatest possible slip resistance for pedestrians.

Work with the existing building owners to provide meaningful depth canopies (the buildings are already there – so why not use them – BUT the existing area ways need to be removed so pedestrians can walk right along the buildings (either meters in vaults or grate over for a continuous walking surface). And what better place to locate canopies then along the South side of the building?

Yes handrails. Provide handrails at the center of the walking route once the steepness of the hillside becomes significant (approximately West of Court C – typical). Hey – they do it in Europe all the time.

While many of these concepts can be applied to the existing numbered streets (where there are buildings and not surface parking lots) – there is also the infamous mid-block connections (the original ‘Escalade’) and the more secretive and compelling ‘interior hillclimbs’ that utilize existing building passages to consider. So many opportunities for rumination.

Broadway LID – you must have a good link for this.

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I always thought the city should have two cable cars.  One in the future shopping district (goodbye Park Place North – it’d be great to have a city mall there), and one further down… Say 11th and 7th?

With the way America is getting fatter, and the way we’re all so outta shape, I think to develop the hillside, you’ll need something so those people can go up and down the hill with less effort… or they just won’t do it.

What do other (successful)towns built on a hill do?

January 31, 2009 at 11:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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J. Cote

Great ideas and concept, Mr. Boe, as usual. I ask the usual question though: how will it be paid for and at the expense of what?

<span class=“caps”>LID</span>’s are paid for through the use of 25% of the City’s Gas Tax receipts from the State. That’s money that could be used to pave streets and repair sidewalks. Sure, the Broadway/St. Helens <span class=“caps”>LID</span> <span class=“caps”>LOOKS</span> pretty, but at the expense of what? Could those funds have been used for more effective pothole repair and sidewalk construction? (I dare you to walk down N. 21st from Union to Pearl on <span class=“caps”>EITHER</span> side without having to dodge traffic at some point.)

Priorities. It’s all about priorities. Until the City Council gets theirs straight and starts considering the needs of <span class=“caps”>ALL</span> of it’s constituents, we will never have an adequate street/sidewalk system that benefits the City as a whole.

January 31, 2009 at 8:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Great idea! Creating walkable sidewalks downtown with an empahis on use, not just looks is required for any kind of long term development. How to pay for it? Use my gas tax! I would like to see it go toward something I actually use rather than more freeway interchanges for commuters and streets where only a handful of people live. The key here when prioritizing is volume of use. A sidewalk in a downtown commercial core will see lots more walkers than a sidewalk in a single family residential area. On a funding side note, I once lived in a city where the street you lived on was directly paid for in taxes by the people who lived on it. So, big buildings=nice street, tiny houses=bad street, or big taxes if the residents wanted it nicer.

February 1, 2009 at 10:12 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Douglas Tooley

How ‘bout a zip line down to the Foss Seaport?


February 2, 2009 at 9:10 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I'm for Change (for tacoma)

Thank you! Thank You!  Finally someone acknowledges how slippery the sidewalks/walkways get in this town.  I work with a bunch of… uhm… non-transplants shall we say.  When I mention this issue I just get a slight shoulder shrug and the look that says “yeah, so what, that’s how it is, that’s what sidewalks do.  ya know the sun comes up in the east too”.

February 2, 2009 at 9:52 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thorax O'Tool

With the way America is getting fatter…

I don’t think catering to the problem will help solve it. If we want people to get out and walk, make the walk appealing, with things like storefronts, landscaping, good looking buildings, and above all, a reason to be downtown on foot in the first place.

We don’t want this:

February 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ingrown Toenail

What good are sidewalks if the peeps are still thinking this is 1991 and that if they go downtown they’ll get robbed at knife point by a crip?

To you me and others who like the city, it’s obvious things are good now, at least compared to the 80’s and 90’s. But most people still do not like downtown and view it negatively. Until we get all the middle-aged middle class to stop thinking the burbs = salvation, we’re gonna have a hard time. There ain’t enough young people in this city to make enough of a difference, most of us are too poor to buy/open businesses, much less patronize them.

February 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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