City navigates Murray Morgan Bridge issue

Last week, the City of Tacoma took two important steps toward the restoration of the historic Murray Morgan Bridge over the Thea Foss Waterway.
The steel truss vertical lift-span bridge, originally known as Tacoma’s 11th Street Bridge, is currently owned by the state of Washington and scheduled to be demolished in 2006.

The state Legislature agreed during its 2004 session to reallocate $25 million in transportation funds toward saving the bridge, rather than demolishing it, if the city will claim ownership.

The City Council is enlisting the advice of local experts to assist them in making a decision whether to take ownership and restore the bridge.
Engineering firm David Evans and Associates will help provide a cost estimate for the rehabilitation of the unique 91 year-old structure.

Working with a committee of interested citizens and city staff, the firm will review extensive state construction and inspection records, conduct its own physical inspection of the structure, and estimate the cost of renewing the bridge. The estimate is expected to be completed within 90 days.

The city has also hired David Allen, former executive director of the Executive Council of Tacoma, to help the city assess the impact of the bridge renewal project on the economic development of the Foss Waterway.

Allen will develop a short- and long-term funding strategy for the restoration, including an analysis of private funding possibilities.

He also intends to work with east Foss property owners and community interests in developing a vision for the East 11th Street corridor.

Without the connection that the Murray Morgan Bridge provides from downtown Tacoma and the west Foss to the east Foss, further development of the waterway will be more difficult. The Thea Foss Waterway Development Authority has estimated there is a potential for $900 million in development on the east Foss — if the access provided by the bridge remains.