Structural work could begin soon to rehab aging Tacoma Avenue South Bridge

Structural work could begin soon on a project to rehabilitate the aging Tacoma Avenue South Bridge.

Tacoma City Council next week could award a $10.5 million contract to rehabilitate the bridge, which was built in the early 1930s. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.

The beams, sidewalks, guardrails, and deck on the bridge have deteriorated to the point of limiting traffic lanes from four lanes to two lanes, closing sidewalks, and reducing maximum vehicle weight restrictions, according to City staff. Three years ago, the City accepted a $7.1 million federal grant to help pay for the project. One year later, Tacoma City Council awarded a $1.2 million contract to Bellevue, Wash.-based TranTech Engineering to begin design work on the project. In February, councilmembers directed an additional $400,000 toward the bridge design.

In addition to building a new concrete deck, guardrails, streetlights, and sidewalks, the rehabilitation project would replace the girders and paint all the steel members on the bridge.

Design work related to the project was completed last spring. The City put the project out for bid over the summer. The bid deadline expired on Tues., Aug. 19, at 11 a.m. Two contractors submitted bids: Aberdeen, Wash.-based Quigg Bros., Inc. and Vancouver, Wash.-based MJ Hughes Construction.

The Tacoma Avenue South Bridge is one of several local bridges that needs or has undergone rehabilitation work. In July, City officials cited safety concerns when they announced a plan to close the 103-year-old East 11th Street Bridge, which spans the Puyallup River near the Port of Tacoma tide flats. In May, City officials cited safety concerns when they reduced maximum vehicle weight restrictions from 18 tons to 10 tons on the 87-year-old Puyallup River Bridge linking Tacoma to Pacific Highway in Fife; the City previously reduced load limits on the bridge five years ago. The 101-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge re-opened to vehicles and pedestrians last year following a $57 million rehabilitation project. Finally, in May 2012, the Hylebos Bridge spanning Blair Waterway on East 11th Street near the Port of Tacoma tide flats re-opened after a failed drive shaft left the double-bascule bridge platforms upright for more than a decade.

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution to award the contract to Quigg Bros., Inc. during a public meeting on Tues., Sept. 30, at 5 p.m., at the Tacoma Municipal Building (City Council Chambers), located at 747 Market St., in downtown Tacoma. Copies of the agenda, resolution, and staff memo are available online here and here and here, respectively.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index’s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Tacoma Avenue South Bridge Rehabilitation Project, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.