Birney Elementary School Replacement

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News & Updates

Birney All Stars rock the playground vote 

By a landslide, Birney Elementary students voted in red and blue as the color combination for their new playground equipment. 

Crews just broke ground on their new school, which is expected to open in fall 2020. Their new playground, however, will get installed near the beginning of the upcoming school year. 

Take a look at Birney students' reaction to their pick, along with the progress on the site. Turner Construction has installed fencing, removed old playground equipment and continues to clear the site to prepare for the new building.


Changes coming for walkers and drivers around Birney

With construction on the new Birney Elementary starting May 28, you’ll notice some changes.

To start, construction crews will close the sidewalk on the east side of South Sheridan Avenue, from South 78th Street to South 76th Street. Large trucks will enter the construction site from Sheridan, so closing that portion of the sidewalk is necessary to keep walkers safe. 

The sidewalk on the west side of Sheridan will remain open; children who walk to school on Sheridan should use that side of the street. A Birney crossing guard will remain stationed at Sheridan and 76th to help children cross the street safely. 

Drivers who line up along Sheridan to drop off or pick up Birney students are asked to keep the entrances to the construction site clear. 

Construction of new Birney Elementary starts May 28

It's happening! Soon, you'll see fencing go up and equipment move into the area where the new Birney Elementary will live – right next door to the existing school. Students will remain in the existing building until their new school opens. Birney's Deaf and Hard of Hearing programs will remain. The round building will also remain.

Construction starts May 28; the new school is expected to open in September 2020.

We know bringing a major construction project into a neighborhood impacts its residents. Tacoma Public Schools and Turner Construction, the general contractor for the new Birney Elementary, want to limit that impact as much as possible and make sure neighbors know what to expect and when. Read more about the construction plan, developed with safety as the top priority.

Where will the construction entrance be located?
From May 2019 – June 2020, there will be two construction entrances that large trucks will use, both on South Sheridan. From June 2020 – October 2020, there will be one construction entrance, on South 76th Street.
How will trucks access the site?
Trucks hauling materials to Birney will travel from I-5 to one of these two exits:

  • South 72nd Street, turning right down South Sheridan and left on S. 76th to make a loop around the campus
  • South 84th, turning left to South Sheridan.

Deliveries will not occur during student drop off and pickup times.

How will students and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community be kept safe around the construction site?

  • The construction site will be defined by a temporary fence. The separation between the site and the existing school will be made with post and fabric fence, which is a safer option than traditional fence panels.
  • Deliveries will go in and out of the site at different ends of the construction site, reducing the amount of reversing trucks outside the site. No deliveries will be made during student drop-off or pick-up times.
  • Trucks will be equipped with visual strobes in addition to audible alarms when they do have to reverse.
  • Cautionary signage will be displayed around the construction site.  

Where will work crews park?
Construction workers will park on a temporary lot at the south end of the site, adjacent to the Tacoma Cambodian Evangelical Church parking lot. Construction crews will generally arrive at the site at 6 a.m. and leave between 3:30-5:30 p.m. 

As construction workers join the project team, they will attend a staff safety orientation to learn about the project's zero-tolerance policy for illegal parking. 

How will construction affect residential parking and driving?
Utility work on South Sheridan Ave and South 76th Street will have the most significant impact on residential parking and driving; it will occur from June to September of 2020.  Traffic control will be in place. The construction team will work to minimize impacts, prevent road closures and notify neighbors of disruptions. 

What's the staff and visitor parking plan once the school is complete?
There will be new, separate staff and visitor parking lots to the east of the new school, on South L Street.

  • Current on-site parking stalls: 37
  • New on-site parking stalls: 46

Where will school buses and parents drop off and pick up students?
Parent and bus drop off areas will be in separate locations. The bus loop will remain on the South 76th Street, and the parent drop-off loop will move to South Sheridan.

What are the work hours on the site, and how far will the noise travel?
Typical work hours are Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 5 p.m. during the work week. If weekend work is required, those hours are the same (there will be no heavy equipment operations before 9 a.m. on weekends). We reduce noise when possible and make certain we are below the permissible Tacoma Municipal Code sound levels, both indoor and outdoor. 

They grow so fast

Click here to see what's happening right now on the live construction web-cam. The new Birney Elementary school is scheduled to open September 2020. 
Use internet Explorer with Adobe Flash enabled to view the live feed. 

About the Project

Project Overview

Birney Elementary is home to three Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs for preschool through fifth grade. Birney also offers a special education program and HeadStart preschool. Birney currently serves approximately 470 students in Tacoma's South End. The current building was built in 1962, with the addition of a gymnasium and resource room in 1972.

Students will remain on site during construction. 

Take a look at McGranahan's January 2018 Presentation, which details what the new Birney will offer. 

Student capacity: 545 students
Projected budget: $37.1 million   
Architect: McGranahan Architects    
Contractor: Turner Construction
Construction: May 2019 - September 2020  
Expected opening: September 2020

This project is funded by the $500 million school construction bond voters passed in 2013.

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While construction doesn't begin until summer 2018, we know many people will have questions now. Email your ideas and questions to

News & Updates

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