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Bridges

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 that service all travel modes and others which are limited to foot and bicycle traffic. The focus of our work is to preserve and improve the condition of bridges that are physically deteriorated or structurally deficient 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?

  • Total bridge assets within the City are valued over $1 billion in replacement value (2021 dollars)
  • Currently, the City spends over $1.5 million, annually, to operate, inspect, and maintain the City bridge system
  • Of the 45 bridges in the City's inventory;
    • 45% (20) total are considered in good condition,
    • 4% (2 total) are considered to be in fair condition, and
    • 51% (23) total are considered to be in poor condition.
  • Almost half (43%) of the bridges in the system are over 50 years old
  • There are 41 vehicular bridges and 4 pedestrian only bridges
  • 9 bridges are load restricted for less than legal loads (Commercial Vehicles and Trucks)
  • 2 bridges are closed to vehicular traffic: E 11th street (over the Puyallup River) and the E 11th street viaduct.
  • 5 bridges are over water (3 over the Puyallup River, 1 over the Hylebos Waterway, and 1 over the Thea Foss Waterway)
  • 35 bridges are over natural features (valleys), roads, or railroads
  • 3 bridges are short spans.  Short spans are bridges less than 20 feet in length.
  • 2 bridges are moveable bridges (Hylebos and Murrary Morgan)
  • 4 of the City’s bridges are historical bridges and are on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
    • Murray Morgan Bridge, built in 1911 over the Foss Waterway
    • E. 34th Street Bridge, built in 1937, over Lister Gulch
    • N. 21st Bridge, built in 1910, over Buckley Gulch
    • N. 23rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, built in 1909, over Buckley 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 41 vehicular bridges and 4 pedestrian bridges. Bridge program work includes:

 

Bridge Inspection Program: Perform regularly scheduled in-service bridge inspections. This includes routine, underwater, and fracture critical inspections. Performing scour evaluations for all bridges over water.  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 and take corrective action as needed.

 

Maintain a bridge/tunnel file for every bridge/tunnel 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).

 

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.

 

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

Westside:
MLLW: 79 feet
MHHW: 59 feet
Eastside:
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. 20 Tons 
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; 35.2 Tons
Emergency Vehicle 3; 34.4 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

2021 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 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.
  • 2018 – Tacoma Avenue South Rehabilitation. 
  • 2019 - Puyallup River Bridge (aka Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge B) Bearing Replacement
  • 2019 – South M Street Fire Damage Repair.
  • 2020 – Harold Moss Memorial Bridge (E 34th Street Bridge Over SR 7) Concrete Spall Repair.
  • 2020 – Yakima Avenue Bridge Deck Rehabilitation
  • 2020 – Hylebos Bridge Electrical/Mechanical Inspection
  • 2020 – Murray Morgan Bridge Electrical/Mechanical Inspection
  • 2021 - Hylebos Bridge Software Upgrade
  • 2021 - Murray Morgan Bridge Elevator Window Replacement

Planned (Future) Projects

We are striving to rehabilitate and replace structures within the City.
  •  2022 – Stadium Way to SR 705 B Deck Rehabilitation (submitted for Federal Grant Funding)
  • 2022 – SR 705 NB to Stadium Way Deck Rehabilitation (submitted for Federal Grant Funding)
  • 2024 (and beyond) – Fishing Wars Memorial Corridor Replacement.
  • 2024 (and beyond) – 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

 

Annual Bridge Inspection Report

Coming soon - check back for updates!

Inspections

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

 

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