Social/economic value
Best in State:
Gold Award

KPFF/Hart Crowser

Project: Place of Circling Waters
Client: Port of Tacoma

Photo courtesy of KPFF/Hart Crowser
Place of Circling Waters is a restored habitat site located at a former gravel mine and waste dump in Tacoma.

Drivers on Marine View Drive in Tacoma used to look out on a 30-acre wasteland left by a former gravel mine and waste dump at the mouth of Hylebos Creek.

Although it was home to blackberry bushes, knotweed and other invasive weeds, what you couldn’t see was the most dangerous part of the site — contaminated soil with high concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons, arsenic, lead and other toxic metals. These contaminants had already entered the groundwater and threatened to discharge into the creek, where they would wreak havoc with fish and other aquatic organisms.

The Port of Tacoma’s project team was headed by KPFF and Hart Crowser, which provided critical geotechnical and environmental engineering expertise.

Work involved a 255,000-ton remedial excavation cleanup and the restoration of what was once a large, vibrant natural habitat.

The project faced permit and regulatory issues in five separate mitigation areas, and site dimensions were increased after additional contamination was discovered. Because the site is at the base of a large hill, a rock buttress was built for stabilization and drainage. The team also designed a view deck, new parking lot and access for the public.

Officials of the local Puyallup Indian Tribe call this new site Place of Circling Waters since water flows from the creek into the new intertidal zone and stream channels at high tide. It offers resting and feeding areas for young salmon as well as habitat for native plants, water birds and other wildlife.

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