Skip Navigation
Decrease Normal Increase

North 21st Street Project

UPDATE: AUG. 27, 2018

For the first time since 1926, Cushman Substation is not an active part of Tacoma Power's electrical system. We completed the last of the work needed to divert the power via a new pole at Adams and 21st streets. 

In the coming weeks, the contractor who installed the new polease will repair damage to sidewalks and the median at three intersections along 21st street.  

Over the next few months, we will start removing equipment from the yard - with a goal to complete that by the end of the year.

We thank all those impacted by this project for your patience and support. We are thankful to do work in such a great community!


The utility replaced 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 disconnected the Cushman Substation from the electrical system during the second half of 2018. 

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.

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

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
Join our email list to receive project updates. Place "Get North 21st Street Project Updates" in the subject line.

Join the conversation by connecting with us on Facebook.