Calling it a “beachcomber’s delight,” Pierce County leaders opened the Bridge to the Beach on Thursday, providing pedestrian access to 2.5 miles of Puget Sound shoreline that’s been off limits for a century.
The 26-foot-high, 900-foot-long overpass allows safe pedestrian passage over the busy Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway tracks, which separate the shoreline from the rest of the Chambers Creek Properties.
Besides the County Executive, other speakers at the opening ceremony were Pierce County Councilmember Terry Lee, University Place Mayor Debbie Klosowski and Jeanette Dorner, salmon recovery program manager for the Nisqually Tribe. More than 200 people attended the opening ceremony.
The state contributed $3.15 million toward the cost of construction via grants awarded by the Department of Commerce and the Recreation and Conservation Office. The Pierce County Sewer Utility paid $650,000 for design, engineering and permits.
County leaders continue to work with state and federal lawmakers to obtain funding for the next phases of the project — cleanup of contaminated pilings and extending the bridge to a new dock on Puget Sound. The overwater structure will have a much smaller footprint than the existing gravel loading dock and cast a smaller shadow over the water. The new dock will also use a significantly fewer number of pilings.