Get ready for Point Defiance Park roundabout construction Project could start in January; park, all attractions open as workers streamline Pearl Street traffic flow

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Point Defiance Park and all of its attractions will remain open as construction gets underway on a roundabout that will replace a sometimes-confusing intersection at the North Pearl Street entrance.

Construction could begin as early as January and should last about four months. Work is expected to take place from morning into early evening Monday through Saturday on most days in an effort to complete the work efficiently and quickly.

The roundabout is designed to improve safety and smooth traffic flow into and out of the park, the Point Defiance Marina boat launch and the Vashon Island ferry landing.

During construction, everything in the park – including Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Point Defiance Marina, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and all of the park’s viewpoints, trails and even the parking spaces around the bowl – will be open regular hours. Facility rentals won’t be affected, either. Temporary detours will keep traffic flowing into, out of and around the park. Drivers and pedestrians just need to follow signs strategically placed around the area.

“It was very important to us that this beloved park remain open for public use as improvements continue,” said Phedra Redifer, Metro Parks’ regional parks attractions manager. “We  expect that the arrangement of detours will minimize disruptions for park visitors, especially on weekends when many people come here to recreate and participate in special events and Metro Parks programs in this beautiful setting.”

Tips for entering and leaving the park

Pedestrians should follow signs near the construction area.

The best option for drivers entering the park will be to use the Mildred Street entrance. It can be reached from North Pearl Street by turning west onto North 51st Street and following the curve at the end of North 51st Street to Mildred Street.

All drivers will be able to enter the park from Pearl. Street. Detour signs will direct traffic down to the ferry dock, boat launches and into the bowl area.

Drivers will have two ways to leave the park:

Via Mildred Street (follow signs placed throughout the park)

By way of the Point Defiance Marina. From the park’s bowl area, the first right turn after the Pagoda takes traffic downhill to the Marina. From there, share the southbound lanes with Vashon Island ferry traffic to exit onto North Pearl Street.

In addition to the roundabout, Metro Parks plans other improvements at the park entrance, including a new sign welcoming visitors and a secondary roundabout at the entrance to a new multi-purpose parking lot east of the ferry access road. As part of the roundabout project, access to and from North Pearl Street from North Park Avenue will be eliminated on both sides of North Pearl Street. This is necessary to conform to intersection design standards.

The roundabout is just one of multiple improvements underway at Point Defiance Park, including a new Pacific Seas Aquarium inside Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, an 11-acre section of waterfront park built atop the breakwater peninsula and a bridge and trail that will connect the park’s trails to Point Ruston and Ruston Way. All of these new features are on track to be open by late 2018. More details about the roundabout and other park improvement projects can be found at DestinationPointDefiance.org.

For more information, questions or concerns, contact Michael Thompson, Metro Parks public information manager, at (253) 305-1092 or via e-mail at michaelt@tacomaparks.com.

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