Imagine Tacoma – Transit Alley

Given the recent interest in looking at ‘options’ for a revitalized Pierce Transit Hub in Downtown, Imagine Tacoma reviews the existing Commerce Street Facility for in-situ enhancement considerations.

Of course one great way to improve the environment and operation of the facility would be to relocate the bLINK to another route location – thus allowing for the traffic lanes to be narrowed and the platform staging areas expanded – but since that is unlikely to happen given the investment politics, what about considering the following:

  • Fill in the 10th Street Enclosed Stairway: Pedestrian-ize the existing streets instead of maintaining this creepy corridor.

  • Fill-in all Alcoves along the Street: Fill-in all those dark alcoves along both sides of the street (this is a basic urban design 101 issue for both the perception and reality of the safety of the pedestrian environment).

  • Remove Clutter: Remove all of the various bits of extraneous street furniture – tree pots, oompa-loompa bollards, pedestrian light stanchions (but not the trash cans!) – and thus increase the clarity of the space and queuing area for bus riders (FYI – the ‘clutter concept’ that was the basis of the original transit corridor design assumed that all of the different bits of brightly colored street furniture will make the street look active and alive so you won’t feel that you are all alone when you are all alone– to me it just looks like Pierce Transit got a good deal at a jumble sale of McDonald’s furniture).

  • Leaning: All furniture that is along the platform should be of various heights for leaning (one of Lars Gemzoe’s 12 Quality Criteria for Urban Life).
  • Security Grilles: Replace – or at least repaint – the security grilles along the parking garage to remove that ‘penal’ aesthetic overtone – maybe these become a canvas for metallurgy artists?

  • Paint: Paint all of the interior walls under the parking garage– maybe these become canvases for expansion of Frost Park Chalk Challenges?
  • Platform Canopy: Construct a continuous translucent canopy along each sidewalk that provides weather protection within 18” of the curb and incorporates integral lighting (thus allowing removal of more light stanchions).
  • Landscape the ‘Jabba the Hut’ Memorial Fountain: In the Pacific Northwest, water is great under a boat or frozen under skis, but not necessarily desired when waiting for a bus in the middle of winter/end of spring. Fill in the scary alcoves and totally vegetate the rock.

Now this probably is not as sexy as being part of a mixed-use savior project for a long neglected historic building – but it does build upon current infrastructure investment (and thus leaving the Elks for a public/private partnership for the Children’s Museum).

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RR Anderson

Nice!  I’ve seen at least two blind folks stumble over the low lying street clutter. I would love to see that crap removed. 

also once you collect enough of these, you should consider putting it all together in a book.  exit133 publications presents: David Boe’s Imagine Tacoma

June 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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David, you should be on the planning commission or running the public works dept.

You always have such grand ideas. Does anyone listen? They should! Maybe Pierce Transit Park could go all the way across? Oh, and if they were to move the bus transit area to the Elks building the bus turn around space could be a year round market!

June 13, 2008 at 4:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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David is currently the Vice-Chair of the planning commission

Hopefully they listen! :)

June 13, 2008 at 5:21 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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crenshaw sepulveda

Don’t our elderly deserve a place to sit down while waiting for buses that are often very late?

June 13, 2008 at 4:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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tom waits

Pretty good lipstick job. 

However, I am not sure filling in the creepy pedestrian corridor is the way to go.  Tacoma superblocks make east-west travel difficult enough.  What I would suggest would be more to enliven or enhance the corridors, to make them seem more like public space.  Better lighting, widened if possible, art, kiosks, upgraded and enhanced points of entry…passageways are very urban and in more cities are more dynamic than those along Commerce.

I think much could be done to de-creepify these passageways.  I think one of the more critical urban design issues in Tacoma is our lack of buskers and people selling cheapo cashmere, jewelry and other weird tchotchkes.  These kinds of folks make almost any space better.

June 16, 2008 at 3:01 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Chris K

This is great.  Filling in the alcoves is a good idea and I really like the concept of an extended canopy.

I don’t know if getting rid of all of the lighting is a great idea.  The ideal for this parking garage is for it to come down and be replaced with a mixed use building.

There needs to be an ongoing public process and capital fund to improve the design of deficient public spaces.

June 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Dave L.

C’mon,, it’s not a “creepy corridor,” it’s the <span class=“caps”>ESCALADE</span>! 

(At least it was.) A, B, C, D

June 17, 2008 at 11:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Dave L.

(Sorry for repost – links above no longer work)

A An anxious crowd gathers for the dedication of Tacoma’s first escalade. Tacoma claimed to be the first city in the nation with modern “moving sidewalks. Four ramps connected Pacific Avenue, Commerce Street and Broadway. The noble experiment was discontinued in 1983, due to vandalism and mechanical problems.

B A man is standing behind a large sign promoting the city of Tacoma. The 1962 photograph indicates that Tacoma is a growing city, perhaps trying to lure people from the Seattle area. It states that Tacoma is 30 miles south (of Seattle) and has America’s lowest power rates. An illustration of the new downtown moving sidewalks, called “escalades” in the local newspaper, may have been there to dispell any notions that Tacoma was behind the times in technology. The Tacoma totem pole, Narrows Bridge, Mount Rainier and boats sought to identify the city as a viable, vibrant location in which to live.

C  Cysewski, 1979

June 20, 2008 at 3:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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