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Tacoma's Bridges 

Public Works Engineering is entrusted to maintain and operate the bridges within the City of Tacoma.  As part of that responsibility, we maintain and operate 45 bridges for the residents and visitors to use on a daily basis and service all modes of travel.  The focus of our work is to preserve and improve the condition of bridges that are physically deteriorated or damaged through replacement, rehabilitation, and by the use of systematic, preventative maintenance methods.


Goals of the City's Bridge Program

  • Protect the public's investment, extend the service life of bridges, and provide safe travel across bridges by all modes
  • Improve safety and reliability by rehabilitating bridges to meet structural standards
  • Maintain the historic character of Tacoma’s bridges
  • Practice innovative maintenance management to efficiently and cost effectively achieve these goals

Did You Know?

  • All information in this section is based upon best available information as of January, 2024 and is subject to change without notice
  • Total bridge assets within the City are valued at over $1 billion in replacement value.
  • Currently, the City spends over $1.5 million annually, to operate, inspect, and maintain the City bridge system
  • Of the 40 vehicular bridges in the City's inventory;

o 55% (22 total) are considered to be in “Good” condition

o 38% (15 total) are considered to be in “FAIR” condition
o 8% (3 total) are considered to be in “POOR” condition


The terms GOOD / FAIR / POOR are non-technical terms that refer to the general state of a bridge.  GOOD / FAIR / POOR are terms that are not used by engineers to determine or indicate the safety of a bridge. The overall safety, structural adequacy, load carrying capacity, and any other aspect of a bridge are determined by the inspection team and bridge engineer. Their analysis is based on data on the history of the structure and inspection information.


The GOOD / FAIR / POOR methodology is interpreted with the experience of the bridge engineer, and takes into account the history of the structure and inspection information.

  • Approximately (56%) of the bridges in the system are over 50 years old (built prior to 1974).
  • The average design life of a bridge is 75 years.  Typically, with proper maintenance, bridges can have useful lives of 100 years or more.
  • 6 bridges are load restricted for less than legal loads (commercial vehicles and trucks)
  • 6 bridges are closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic:  E. 11th Street (over the Puyallup River) and the Fishing Wars Memorial Corridor Bridges (Fishing Wars Memorial Bridges A through E)6 bridges are over water (3 over the Puyallup River, 1 over the Blair/Hylebos Waterway, and 1 over the Thea Foss Waterway).  Note, this doesn’t account for short spans or bridges over seasonal water sources.
  • 40 bridges span natural features such as valleys, roads, or railroads.
  • 3 bridges are considered short spans, which are less than 20 feet in length, and are not reportable to the FHWA.  These short spans are not owned or maintained by Public Works Engineering.
  • 2 bridges are moveable bridges (Hylebos and Murray Morgan).
  • 4 of the City’s bridges are historical and are on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

  o Murray Morgan Bridge, built in 1911, over the Foss Waterway.
o E. 34th Street bridge, built in 1937, over Lister Gulch.
o N. 21st Street Bridge, built in 1910, over Buckley Gulch.
o N. 23rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, built in 1909, over Buckely Gulch. 

Due to its inability to carry vehicular loads, this bridge was changed

to a pedestrian only bridge in the early 1990’s

The City of Tacoma owns, inspects, maintains, and operates 40 vehicular bridges and 5 pedestrian bridges.  


Bridge Program work includes:

1. Bridge Inspection Program:  Perform regularly scheduled in-service bridge inspections.  This includes routine, underwater, and Non-redundant Steel Tension Members (NSTM) inspections.  Performing scour evaluations for all bridges over water is an essential function of the program.  The city maintains quality control and quality assurance procedures to maintain a high degree of accuracy and consistency within the inspection program.

The City is required to respond to and report significantly damaged bridges to the FHWA Washington division Bridge Engineer as well as WSDOT and take corrective action as needed.

Staff is required to maintain a bridge file for every bridge in the cities inventory which follows the Federal Coding Guide criteria and submit bridge inventory data to WSDOT and FHWA for incorporation into the National Bridge Inventory (NBI).

2. Bridge Load Rating Program: Managing the safe weight capacity of bridges is an important element to bridge safety. The City regularly analyzes the weight capacity of its bridges to meet State and Federal requirements.


3. Capital Improvement Program: Some bridges require major rehabilitation or replacement to ensure they remain safe and available to the traveling public. Capital projects often involve a multi-year planning, design, and engineering process.

Bridge Openings

In Tacoma, there are two vehicular moveable bridges over navigable water, the Hylebos and Murray Morgan Bridge. Federal law requires bridges open for marine traffic, with few exceptions. Tacoma is part of the US Coast Guard 13th District. More information is available at www.uscg.mil/d13/.


Tacoma Movable Bridges

Here is a list of vehicular bridges in Tacoma that open for marine traffic.

Moveable Bridges Year Built Vessel Clearance 
Hylesbos Bridge

Built; 1939

Rehabilitated; 2012

MHHW:  Approx. 18 feet
(Depending on tide level)
Murray Morgan Bridge  

Built; 1911

Rehabilitated; 2013

MLLW: 79 feet
MHHW: 59 feet
MLLW: 72 feet
MHHW: 52 feet
(Depending on tide level)


All clearances are approximate and vessel operator shall request an opening if there is any question of ability to safely pass a vessel under these structures.


How to Request a Bridge Opening

Hylebos Bridge 

Hylebos Bridge opens on request 24 hours a day. Contact the bridge tender on duty, upon approach. Bridge contact can be made by phone at (253) 627-4655, marine radio VHF, Channel 13, or signaling the bridge with one long and one short blast of your horn. It takes approximately two minutes to open the bridge. Tenders will begin all openings approximately at 1,000 yards upon approach.


Murray Morgan Bridge

Murray Morgan Bridge opens by appointment only. Vessels shall contact the bridge tender a minimum of two hours before any requested opening via phone (253) 627-4655 or by marine radio VHF, Channel 13.  However, to obtain a bridge opening between 10 PM and 8 AM, notification must be made to the City of Tacoma bridge tender by 8 PM. In emergencies, openings shall be made as soon as possible upon notification to the City of Tacoma bridge tender.

Vehicle Weight Restrictions on Bridges

Structure Name Location Weight Restriction
Fishing Wars Memorial Bridges (FWMB)
(Bridges A through E)
Fishing Wars Memorial Corridor, from Portland Ave. to Fife City Limits. Closed to all vehicles
River Street Viaduct Portland Ave., from Fishing Wars Memorial Corridor to Lincoln Avenue Emergency Vehicle 3; 31 Tons
Hylebos Waterway E. 11th Street, from Taylor Way to SR 509 Single truck, 6 axle;  33 Tons
Single Truck, 7 axle; 35 Tons
Emergency Vehicle 3; 34 Tons
Harold Moss Bridge (E. 34th Street over SR 7) E. 34th Street, from East B Street to East D Street Emergency Vehicle 3; 36 Tons
E. 11th Street Bridge E. 11th Street, from Portland Avenue to Milwaukee Avenue Closed to all vehicles

Lincoln Avenue Truss

(over the Puyallup River)

Lincoln Ave. E., from Portland Ave. to Stewart St.

Emergency Vehicles Tandem, 26 T

Gross, 36 T

(TFD Exempt)

 South M Street South M Street, from South Tacoma Way to Center Street

Single Truck 5 axles, 29 Tons

Single Truck, 6 axles, 30 Tons

Single Truck, 7 axles, 31 Tons

Overweight emergency vehicles, 10 mph

2023 Map of City Load Restrictions


Important Items to Remember

No overloads are allowed on any bridge within the city limits. To inquire about overloads, contact the Bridge Program Manager (see contact information below)


WSDOT overload permits are only valid on/within state right of way and does not allow overloads on City owned bridges.


Past and Current Projects

We are rehabilitating and replacing bridges in the city.


We are maintaining, rehabilitating, and replacing bridges in the City!


  • 2018
    Tacoma Avenue South Bridge Rehabilitation 
  • 2019 
    Puyallup River Bridge (aka Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge B) Bearing Replacement
    South M Street Fire Damage Repair
  • 2020
    Harold Moss Memorial Bridge (E 34th Street Bridge over SR 7) Concrete Spall Repair 
    Yakima Avenue Bridge Deck Rehabilitation
    Hylebos Bridge Electrical and Mechanical Inspections
    Murray Morgan Bridge Electrical and Mechanical Inspections
  • 2021
    Hylebos Bridge Software Upgrade
    Murray Morgan Bridge Elevator Window Replacement
  • 2022
    Murray Morgan Bridge Lift Alignment
    E 11th Street Viaduct Emergency Bridge Demolition
    SR 705 Landslide Emergency Repair
    Stadium Way to SR 705 SB Bridge Deck Rehabilitation
    Stadium Way to SR 705 NB Bridge Deck Rehabilitation
    E Dock Street Fencing Repair/Replacement
  • 2023
    SR 16 Pedestrian Bridge Graffiti Painting
    S 34th Street E Bridge Deck Rehabilitation
    E Lincoln Avenue Bridge (Truss) Seismic Upgrades
  • 2024
    Hylebos Bridge (west) Fender Emergency Replacement project
    S 48th Street Seismic Upgrades
    Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge Replacement (Preliminary Design only)

Planned (Future) Projects

We are striving to rehabilitate and replace structures within the City.


  • 2025 (and beyond)
    River Street Deck Rehabilitation
    4th and Dock Street Deck Rehabilitation
    Stadium Way and Schuster Ramps to SR 705 Seismic Upgrades
    Fishing Wars Memorial Replacement (Construction).
    E 11th Street Corridor Replacement

Project Awards

Each year, the American Public Works Association (APWA) presents the Public Works Projects of the Year awards to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, the contractor, the consultant, and their cooperative achievements.


2020 APWA Project of the Year:  Puyallup River Bridge F16A7B Replacement (aka Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge A)

Structures, $25 million–$75 million


APWA 2020 Project of the Year Award


2018 APWA Project of the Year: Tacoma Avenue South Bridge Rehabilitation
Historical Restoration/Preservation, $5 million but less than $25 million

APWA 2018 Project of the Year Award


Available Bridge Inspection Reports

2022 Bridge Report


The 2022 Annual Bridge Report information is not the current or best information available at this time.  Until a new and more current report can be generated, please use the available information with caution.



Staff regularly inspect the bridges to ensure they meet the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) compliance guidelines for safety. 


Local Bridge Program | WSDOT (wa.gov)


Bridge Inspection - Safety - Bridges & Structures - Federal Highway Administration (dot.gov)


Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) (23, part 650, Subsection C, Bridges, Structures, and Hydraulics)


Contact Information

Bridge Program Manager/Team Lead: 

Steve Carstens, PE, scarstens@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5263


Bridge Inspector: 

Jeremiah Kotulan, JKotulan@cityoftacoma.org , (253) 686-4208


Inspection Team Leads:
Chris Storey, PE, cstorey@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 573-2484
Chad Norman, cnorman@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 606-5470