Future regional trail connecting Puyallup, Fife and Tacoma gets a name: spuyaləpabš Trail

PIERCE COUNTY – The new name for a 12-mile trail in Pierce County will honor the people who have lived on and stewarded the land for centuries: the Puyallup People.

On Tuesday, May 14, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced the shared-use path will be called spuyaləpabš Trail. The name was chosen by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, reflecting the tribe's native Lushootseed language. The word spuyaləpabš is the Lushootseed name for the Puyallup People, translated as "people from the bend at the bottom of the river" and is also associated with the Puyallup People's welcoming and generous behavior.

"We are pleased to recommend this name to the partners who are helping make this trail a reality. There are 13 Tribes in the Pacific Northwest that speak Lushootseed. To create an environment for the language to grow and survive, it must be visible in our communities," according to a statement from the Puyallup Tribal Council.

The Lushootseed alphabet and sounds are different from the English alphabet. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians created a video to help people learn to correctly pronounce spuyaləpabš. In addition, the word is not capitalized, even at the beginning of a sentence.

Partners in trail development

WSDOT will build sections of the trail that pass through the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Reservation as part of the SR 167 Completion Project. The cities of Fife and Tacoma will build the rest through separate projects.

"For over five years, we've worked with the tribe, our regional partners and the community to plan and fund the trail, recognizing a significant and crucial opportunity to honor tribal language, history and culture, including the trail name," said John White, Puget Sound Gateway Program administrator. "We also want to acknowledge the Legislature for supporting this effort and providing funding to build the trail."

Regional partners, who worked closely with the tribe and WSDOT to select a route and secure funding, enthusiastically endorsed the name recommended by tribal leaders.

"This trail represents the culmination of our strong partnership, symbolizing our collective commitment to preserving cultural heritage, promoting connectivity and enriching the quality of life in our community," said Fife Mayor Kim Roscoe. "We look forward to witness the trail becoming a valuable resource for residents and visitors alike."

Former Puyallup Councilmember John Palmer said, "In honoring the rich heritage of the Puyallup Tribe, we look forward to the opportunity to educate and celebrate their enduring legacy along the new trail. Our collaboration with regional partners to build the spuyaləpabš Trail not only creates mobility options and fulfills the dream of completing the Tacoma to Mount Tahoma regional trail, but also preserves and honors the cultural heritage of the Puyallup People."

"I am thrilled that we are honoring the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and creating an opportunity for the Lushootseed language to be visible in our community by naming the Tacoma to Puyallup regional trail the spuyaləpabš Trail," said Tacoma City Councilmember Kristina Walker. "The city of Tacoma joins with our regional partners in celebrating that the spuyaləpabš Trail design, public art and name honors and elevates the history, present and future of the Puyallup Tribe. Everyone in our community should be able to safely walk, bike and roll to jobs, schools, parks and housing – the spuyaləpabš Trail brings us one step closer to achieving that vision."

About the spuyaləpabš Trail

The finished trail will provide connections to the Thea Foss Esplanade in Tacoma, Interurban Trail in Fife and the Puyallup Riverwalk Trail. WSDOT is building segments between Puyallup and Fife and plans to complete this work in 2029.

Map showing the final alignment of the future regional trail between Puyallup and Tacoma
The trail will route along WSDOT's future SR 167 alignment from Puyallup to SR 509 in Fife. From there the trail will route along the west side of Alexander Avenue East and continue along the south side of Pacific Highway East where it enters downtown Tacoma. At this point, the trail will be included within the city's Puyallup Avenue Complete Streets project until it reaches the Thea Foss Esplanade.

In addition to the name, the spuyaləpabš Trail will feature work by three teams of Coast Salish artists. When complete, the stories and culture of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians will be visible on walls and signage along the trail.

SR 167 Completion Project

The SR 167 Completion Project builds 6 miles of new tolled highway between Puyallup and the Port of Tacoma. The new highway will be completed in stages. The portion currently under construction between I-5 and the Port of Tacoma is scheduled to open in 2026. The third stage is scheduled to begin construction in 2025 and work on the last stage will begin in 2026. The entire project is planned for completion by 2029. 

Puget Sound Gateway Program overview

The SR 167 Completion Project is part of WSDOT's Puget Sound Gateway Program, which also includes the SR 509 Completion Project in south King County. Combined, the two completion projects finish critical missing links in Washington's highway and freight network.

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