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Metro Parks Today: Feb. 2017

February 15, 2017


News & Notes

Attention cyclists, runners and fans of Point Defiance Park’s Zoo, Fort and other attractions: If you’ve missed the first two meetings to talk about parking and traffic issues in the park, you won’t want to miss the third. Project manager Tom Dargan will present possible changes in traffic flow, including two-way traffic to the Zoo, Owen Beach and Fort Nisqually.

These changes are not set in stone. They’re options as we consider ways to improve safety and efficient flow of traffic to the park’s most popular places. If you have an opinion, we want to hear it.

The public meeting will be at:

You’ll also have the option of weighing in online at or by contacting Tom directly (call him at 305-1017 or email him at But attending in person and contributing to the dialogue will be very much appreciated.

You’ll also get a preview of the roundabout going in at the park’s Pearl Street entrance later this year.

Find the ‘missing linktrail across from the bowl

If you’re an early morning runner or cyclist at Point Defiance Park – or someone out searching for Monkeyshines orbs there as I was before dawn in late January – you’ve probably had some gorgeous sunrise views of a new bridge taking shape across the Vashon ferry lanes: Wilson Way.

Named after the district’s longtime executive director Jack C. Wilson, who retired last year, the bridge is a 600-foot-long, 18-foot-wide “missing link” trail that finally will be a permanent connection between the park’s trail network and Point Ruston’s trail, and from there to Ruston Way and beyond.

The bridge’s importance to pedestrian access in the city will be reason enough to celebrate this fall when Metro Parks opens the bridge. However, the bridge will not only be functional, but also fun.


As reported recently in The News Tribune, the plan is to install stairs down the hillside on the bridge’s triangle side to give people easy access to the waterfront. But next to those stairs, Metro Parks plans to install slides that offer a quicker way down. It has been done elsewhere in the world but apparently would be a first for Metro Parks. Right now, we can only show where the slides would go; take a look.


­­­If you stand across from the bowl parking area close to the ferry lanes, you can follow the columns of concrete and see the path of Wilson Way. In the next month, the first girders will be lifted into place, and the bridge will start to look like a bridge.

Wilson Way is on track, but it’s just one of many improvements coming to Point Defiance Park. You can stay up to date by signing up for email updates at In the next few weeks, we plan to increase their frequency to help you keep up with activity, impacts and next steps. You also can look on (we update construction details at least weekly), and we’re looking into some more options for communications. Meanwhile, the park is OPEN, along with all its attractions. Check out our events page to find out what’s happening, or go directly to the websites for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and the Point Defiance Marina.

Here’s a recap of projects. You can read about all of them at  

  • Wilson Way, the pedestrian bridge linking Point Defiance Park with Ruston Way. Opening late this year.
  • Roundabout at the park’s Pearl Street entrance, beginning construction and opening later this year.
  • Environmental Learning Center, under construction by Tacoma Public Schools inside Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and opening this fall.
  • Pacific Seas Aquarium, under construction at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, opening in 2018.
  • Park on the peninsula, opening in 2018.
  • Owen Beach improvements, going through a public review process now.

Later this year, park staff will begin a public visioning process to help determine the future of the park’s "Triangle," and some more public outreach for other topics is planned.

More planning, more dialogue

Point Defiance Park is the largest park in the district, but it’s far from the only one. Later this year, expect to hear more about plans for Titlow Park, Swan Creek Park and, of course, Eastside Community Center. Sign up for email updates to keep up to date, or keep reading Metro Parks Today.

Thompson profile
Michael Thompson is public information officer
of Metro Parks Tacoma.

Contact him at (253) 305-1092 or