Prairie Line Trail at UWT Station to Open Sept. 25

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Panel discussion on impact of urban trails to follow opening celebration.

The Prairie Line Trail at UWT Station will feature train tracks that trace the original route of the Northern Pacific Railway.Update: UW 360, the University of Washington magazine-style program, recently produced a segment on the Prairie Line Trail. Watch it here.

Join University of Washington Tacoma for the opening of the Prairie Line Trail through campus with a ribbon cutting at the Grand Staircase from 5-6:30 p.m. September 25.

Be among the first to bike or walk this new linear park, built along the historic tracks of American’s second transcontinental railroad, and fuel up on purple and gold Prairie Line trail mix.

After the PLT grand opening, join Downtown On the Go for a ride with Tacoma City Council. The ride will leave from the UW Tacoma Grand Staircase tairs at 6pm and will follow the Prairie Line Trail, “Embrace the Hill” on Jefferson/Delin, and circle around Downtown to end back at UW Tacoma. 

The opening will be followed by a panel discussion, “Trails of Transformation: Past, Present, Future” at 7 p.m. in UW Tacoma’s Carwein Auditorium. The event will look at the Prairie Line Trail through the lens of the impact other networks of pathways have had on their areas. 

Panelists will tackle questions such as: What is the potential for our city and region from continued investment in bike and pedestrian trails? What has been the impact of past and current projects, and what is the potential for the future? Look for more information below.

The name “Prairie Line Trail at UWT Station” reflects the idea that the trail ultimately will connect UW Tacoma to adjoining parts of downtown and beyond. “The interesting thing about the Prairie Line Trail is, it’s one of those projects that is more than just the university. It’s regional. We see it that way; the city sees it that way,” said Milt Tremblay, director of planning and sustainability for UW Tacoma. The name also echoes the location of Tacoma’s first train station, just above Pacific Ave on what is now the university campus (Union Station was not built until 1911).

The campus’s segment of the trail is the first section in a planned pathway from 26th Street to Dock Street, following the original path of the Northern Pacific Railway through downtown Tacoma as it descended to its western terminus on Commencement Bay. The company in 1873 famously chose Tacoma as its portal to the Pacific over Seattle, giving Tacoma an early lead in the race to be the largest Puget Sound city.

Trains ran on the line until 2003, when corporate successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe ended service and Sound Transit built the Tacoma Link light rail line along Pacific Ave. across the historic transcontinental right-of-way.

The Friends of the Prairie Line Trail is already organizing to ensure the path is a culturally vibrant space that remains connected to the greater community.

Join us!

What: Prairie Line Trail at UWT Station Grand Opening
When: September 25, 2014 at 5 p.m.
Where: Grand Staircase, UW Tacoma, 1900 Commerce St., Tacoma, WA 98402
Cost: Free
Register Online:

What: “Trails of Transformation: Past, Present, Future,” a panel discussion on the impacts of trails and pathways on our community
Who: Dr. Ali Modarres, Director, UW Tacoma Urban Studies program; Diane Wiatr, Active Transportation Coordinator, City of Tacoma; Robert Thoms, Tacoma City Council Member; Loren Cohen, Manager of Legal Affairs, MC Construction Consultants; Ernest Bay, President Emeritus, Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition; and moderator Karen Peterson, Executive Editor for The News Tribune
When: September 25, 2014 at 7 p.m.
Where: Carwein Auditorium, Keystone Building, UW Tacoma, 1754 Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA 98402
Cost: Free
Register Online:

Read more about the Prairie Line Trail at UWT Station:

Written by: 
Abby Rhinehart / September 18, 2014
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, Media Relations,, 253-692-4536