New Happenings At Point Defiance

Tacoma’s skyline is changing, with new vistas opening up in some of the city’s best-loved locations.

There’s no hiding the work underway at 760-acre Point Defiance Park, a regional attraction that draws more than 3 million visitors annually. So we asked Metro Parks officials to tell us what’s going on. The answer: plenty.

Most obviously, a massive earth-moving project has occurred along the waterfront, where a portion of a federally designated Superfund site is undergoing a transformation. Over the next two years, Metro Parks expects to complete two key projects there.

One is Wilson Way, a 600-foot-long, elevated, bicycle-pedestrian trail, and bridge that will link the park’s trails to Point Ruston and beyond to Ruston Way. At its highest point, the bridge will be 50 feet above the ground and offer an unimpeded perspective of Mount Rainier, Tacoma, Vashon Island and Puget Sound.

“It’s going to be panoramic: more than 180 degrees,” said Roger Stanton, Metro Parks project administrator. “You’ve never seen these views before. Without this project, you couldn’t.”

The bridge will carry cyclists and pedestrians over a new boat-trailer parking lot, across the Vashon ferry access road, and eventually deliver them to a new park loop trail, near the Japanese garden and the park’s bowl area.

On its east end, the Wilson Way trail will connect with a new 11-acre park being built on the former Asarco slag peninsula. For the space, Portland-based artist Adam Kuby will create a sculpture called Alluvion that harks back to the origin of the peninsula and the former Ruston copper smelter that previously dominated the adjacent landscape.

Like Wilson Way, the peninsula park will feature dramatic views. It’s an area wide open for events and other recreational activities and is scheduled to open in 2018.

At the park’s Pearl Street entrance, plans call for construction this year of a roundabout to improve traffic flow into and out of the park and to and from the Vashon ferry dock.

Future development plans for the so-called Triangle area, just east of the Pearl Street entrance, will be discussed at Metro Parks “visioning” sessions planned for later this year.

Meanwhile, inside Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, workers are building:

  • The Pacific Seas Aquarium, due to open in 2018
  • The Environmental Learning Center, a joint project with Tacoma Public Schools. It will serve students of the Science and Math Institute (SAMI), Zoo visitors and staff.

You can read more about the exciting improvements at


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