More parking, bike lanes planned for Point Defiance Park

TACOMA, Wash. -- Big changes are coming to Point Defiance Park, including bike lanes, shuttle buses and new parking spaces could be on the way.

Metro Parks Tacoma is reaching out to the public to help figure out how to make the best of millions of dollars marked for improvements.

Voters approved a nearly $200 million bond measure in 2014 to pay for improvements across the park system.

The park district said one of the biggest problems it heard from public feedback about Point Defiance is the parking issue.

Finding a parking spot on a weekday isn’t too tough but finding one on a weekend can be a nightmare.

“Last time we were here, there were tons of people and a wedding,” said Jennifer Davis, of Lakewood.

“It makes it hard to ride a bike because of all the cars parking,” added Chase Munsey, of Tacoma.

The parks district will host the first of several public meetings on Wednesday night. The meetings are aimed to finalize plans to improve not only the parking problem but also make access for cyclists and walkers more safe.

“We’re planning for the next century, is what we like to say,” said project manager Tom Dargan.

Hundreds of new parking stalls, a parking garage and converting one-way lanes into two-way roads are all on the drawing board, according to Dargan.

More than 3 million people visit Point Defiance Park annually and attendance is expected to grow with planned projects.

“We’re looking at shuttle options, too; bus transit options,” said Dargan. “A whole bunch of things to not only reduce cars but address parking too.”

Some cyclists agreed a planned dedicated cycle and pedestrian lanes could relieve their safety concerns when sharing the road with cars.

“For bikers like us, it’s a little more dangerous because we don’t have our own lanes,” said Jeremy Moynahan.

“It makes it hard to ride a bike because of all the cars parking,” said Munsey.

The 760-acre park is also home to old growth timber. The park district said the improvements are meant to enhance and compliment historical and environmental features that keep visitors coming in droves.

The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Pagoda building near the Pearl Street entrance to the park. Three more public meetings are on also the schedule -- the next planned for November.