***UPDATE*** Tacoma to further restrict weight limits on Puyallup River Bridge

Engineers inspecting the 87-year-old Puyallup River Bridge, which links Portland Avenue in Tacoma to Pacific Highway in Fife, have recommended further reducing maximum vehicle weight restrictions, City of Tacoma officials announced Wednesday.

“It’s unfortunate, but not unexpected,” said Tacoma Public Works Director Kurtis Kingsolver. “It is an old bridge and we’ve been working to raise the funds for its replacement for some time.”

Bridge joint damage discovered by inspectors earlier this year means weight restrictions will fall from 18 tons down to 10 tons. The move will impact bus routes and about 400 commercial trucks a day. However, an estimated 14,600 passenger vehicles and light trucks will be able to continue using the bridge. The City last reduced load limits on the bridge in 2009.

The City has nearly $40 million in funding to begin a project to replace two of the bridge sections, and has applied for additional grants to continue work on four remaining sections in the future, according to Kingsolver. The remaining sections could cost an approximate additional $100 to $110 million.

“The financial cost of replacing bridge infrastructure is a challenge to jurisdictions across the nation,” said Kingsolver. He noted the signs and notices will be posted soon to notify the public of the change, which is scheduled to take place on Weds., May 7. “It’s a precaution. We make these decisions in the best interest of the public and their safety.”

Weight restriction won’t be lifted until the entire bridge, which was built in 1927, is replaced.

UPDATE: Mon., May 5, 2014 @ 4:04 p.m. – Pierce Transit released the following statement regarding bus service related to the Puyallup River Bridge weight restrictions:

Effective Weds., May 7, 2014, Pierce Transit Routes 500 and 501 will be on a long-term detour. Nine bus stops will be closing between Portland Avenue East and Port of Tacoma Road on Highway 99, including those on 20th St. E. Due to newly imposed weight restrictions by the City of Tacoma on the Eells Street Bridge, (more commonly known as the Puyallup River Bridge) two Pierce Transit routes will detour off their regular scheduled routing onto Interstate 5 at Portland Avenue East and return to normal routing at Port of Tacoma Road. No SHUTTLE Paratranist services are impacted by this detour. For the latest detour and route information, visit piercetransit.org.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Puyallup River Bridge replacement project, click on the following links: