'Bridge to the Beach' sneak peek

Construction has begun on a 900-foot-long structure that will open 2.5 miles of Puget Sound shoreline to the public.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and various stakeholders on Tuesday toured the site of the pedestrian overpass project, dubbed the “Bridge to the Beach,” to get a preview of what’s to come when it opens next summer.

“This project offers a wonderful enhancement to the quality of life in the South Sound,” McCarthy said. “Pierce County’s Chambers Creek Properties is developing into a destination recreation area on par with Point Defiance and other major natural attractions.”

Officially known as the North Dock Overpass, the $4 million project will enable pedestrians to safely cross the railroad tracks and reach a section of west-facing shoreline that was closed to the public during a century of mining operations on the site. Pierce County received most of the project funding from grants from the state Department of Commerce and the state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).

The overpass, being built by Pease and Sons under the direction of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, will open around Labor Day 2010. That is just after the U.S. Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay, which will be on national television for a week and bring even more exposure to Chambers Creek Properties.

The Executive was joined on Tuesday’s tour by Mike Gregoire, husband of Gov. Chris Gregoire; County Councilmember Terry Lee, whose District 7 includes Chambers Creek Properties; representatives of the offices of U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and Adam Smith; state Sen. Mike Carrell; state Rep. Tami Green; and an assistant to state Rep. Troy Kelley.

“I appreciate the state’s support of this terrific project,” Executive McCarthy said. “After years of planning, I am delighted that our partners can see dirt moving and know that it won’t be long before families will be exploring the shoreline and enjoying this spectacular setting.”

County leaders will continue working with state and federal lawmakers to secure funding for the next phase of the project – cleanup of contaminated pilings and construction of a new pier over the Sound.

The Bridge to the Beach is the latest in a list of amenities being developed at Pierce County’s 930-acre Chambers Creek Properties, which is managed by the Public Works and Utilities Department. Other features include: Chambers Bay, site of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open golf championships; the 3.25-mile Soundview and Grandview trail system; the open spaces known as North Meadow and Central Meadow; and an off-leash area for dogs. In addition, neighbors are raising money to build a spectacular “Playground by the Sound” for children next year in the North Meadow.

More information is available online at http://www.piercecountywa.org/ccp .