Pierce County Council OKs weight restrictions for Milroy Bridge

Pierce County Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that will implement new restrictions on vehicle traffic over the 83-year-old Milroy Bridge.

“For me, safety is the number one concern,” said Pierce County Councilmember Joyce McDonald, who sponsored the ordinance, which prevents vehicles towing trailers longer than 28 feet – essentially all semi-trucks – from crossing the bridge, and directs that signs be placed notifying drivers of the restriction. “We knew this bridge was beginning to see a traffic volume it wasn’t meant to handle, and we had to take action before it became a hazard to our citizens.”

Pierce County jointly owns the Milroy Bridge with the City of Fife, which voted last month to support this traffic restriction. According to Pierce County officials, the steel truss bridge, which spans the Puyallup River, has seen increases in large truck traffic and the area population over the past half-century. The bridge, which connects State Route 167 (River Road East) and North Levee Road East at 66th Avenue East, carries approximately 10,500 vehicles per day. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) gives the bridge a 37 rating out of 100, meaning that while it’s not dangerous, it also isn’t built to modern standards, according to Pierce County officials.

Milroy Bridge closed temporarily last month to allow crews from Pierce County Public Works and Utilities and WSDOT to inspect the condition of the bridge’s structural components, perform routine maintenance, and assess future maintenance needs. This work is performed every other year as part of Pierce County’s bridge inspection program, which aims to ensure the safety of the traveling public and the longevity of the county’s transportation infrastructure.

“Right now, the priority is to reduce the length of vehicles crossing the bridge so that travel lanes are not blocked,” said Pierce County Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler. “This has created safety hazards for all drivers. Although there are no immediate plans to replace the bridge, it is on our watch list. This new restriction could also extend the bridge’s useful life.”

The new restrictions will take effect after the ordinance is signed by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.

Similarly, the City of Tacoma imposed further weight restrictions this week on the 87-year-old Puyallup River Bridge, which links Portland Avenue in Tacoma to Pacific Highway in Fife. Three years ago, WSDOT imposed lane restrictions on the northbound State Route 167 Puyallup River Bridge, which was built in 1925.

Pierce County will implement new restrictions on vehicle traffic over the 83-year-old Milroy Bridge. (PHOTO COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)

Pierce County will implement new restrictions on vehicle traffic over the 83-year-old Milroy Bridge. (PHOTO COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of load restrictions on Pierce County’s oldest bridges, click on the following links: