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North 21st Street Project

Tacoma Power's contractor, Michels Corporation, has replaced the existing lattice towers along North 21st Street with new taller steel poles. Most of the work is complete. You can learn about the project first hand from Tacoma Power's construction manager and public information officer on TV Tacoma's May 24 segment of CityLineWatch a tower being removed on MyTPUTube or below.

At the beginning of May, Tacoma Power's contractor, Michels Corporation began replacing the 93-year-old towers and power transmission line along North 21st Street with new steel poles and new transmission line. We anticipate construction will complete on or about September 30. 

What’s included in the tower replacement project?
The utility will replace 19 aging towers on and near North 21st Street with 12 steel poles in the median on every other block. As part of the project, the utility will disconnect the Cushman Substation from the electrical system during the second half of 2018.

Will traffic be impacted by the project?
Yes. You can expect traffic impacts in both directions at various locations along the 1.7-mile North 21st Street corridor. We'll post traffic updates as we have them on this page and at You can also sign up for e-newsletter updates

Will there be any power outages during the project?
There are no planned power outages scheduled that will affect residents or businesses. However, residents could experience very brief unplanned power outages during the wood pole replacement portion of the project. Tacoma Power will work to prevent any unplanned power outages. 

What's the tentative construction schedule?
Work will occur in varying stages at different times and is subject to change dependent upon contractor scheduling.

  • Steel poles delivered in January
  • Contractor selection in March
  • City of Tacoma sanitary sewer line relocate completed in March 
  • PSE gas line relocate completed in March
  • Construction anticipated in spring and summer
  • Project completion slated for fall

Existing Tower On North 21st Street In Tacoma

Why do the towers need to come down?
The 93-year-old towers have deteriorated significantly.

How many towers exist now, and how many will exist when the project is complete?
There are 19 towers: one on every block of North 21st Street from North Adams Street to North Highland Street (15 total); two in the nearby Westgate North Shopping Center; one near Cushman Substation, and one in front of Pearl Substation on Pearl Street. Those towers stand about 75 feet tall.

Tacoma Power will replace the towers with 12 steel poles: one on every other block along North 21st Street (nine total); two in the Westgate North Shopping Center; and one adjacent to Pearl Substation. The new towers range from 90 to 120 feet tall.

In addition, 14 wood poles that line the north sides of North 21st Street from Puget Sound Avenue to North Proctor Street and on some nearby streets will be replaced with taller wood poles (up to 84 feet high). The new wood poles will align new wire with the existing power lines near Cushman Substation. We'll also completely remove nine existing wood poles and install three new ones (also up to 84 feet high). 

This map highlights all work along the 1.7-mile North 21st Street corridor (PDF).
This map shows wood pole replacements (PDF).

Does any prep work have to occur before the towers and wood poles get replaced?
Yes. Before the North 21st Street project begins, some preliminary work must occur: 

  • A City of Tacoma Public Works Department's contractor must replace about 110 feet of sanitary sewer line between North Cheyenne Street and North Verde Street. (This work completed in March.)
  • A Puget Sound Energy contractor must relocate about 50 feet of gas line between North Baltimore Street and South Orchard Street. (This work completed in March.)
  • Century Link must relocate a communications line near North Winifred Street.

What will happen to the Cushman Substation?
A separate project is underway to determine the future of the Cushman Substation. We're working with the City Manager’s Office to develop a Memorandum of Understanding about the substation, with the potential to transfer it to General Government in the future.

What is the history of the towers?
Built in 1925, the lattice towers on North 21st Street are part of the Potlatch Transmission Line that brings power from the Cushman Hydroelectric Project to Tacoma.

What will the project cost?
The estimated project cost is $8 million.

Why will Tacoma Power place the lines overhead instead of beneath ground?
The utility doesn't typically place transmission lines underground because of the significant increase in cost. In this case, underground lines would cost five to 10 times more than overhead lines.

This fact sheet provides easy, takeaway information. (PDF)

New Poles Will Look Similar To This
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