Falcons call Murray Morgan Bridge home (again)

For most Tacomans, the historic Murray Morgan Bridge is a mainstay of downtown Tacoma’s skyline and a symbol of the city’s history. For peregrine falcons, the bridge is historically a great place to nest. That has proven true this week as falcons have once again returned to the 99-year-old bridge to nest, according to a City of Tacoma official.

“We have one sort of challenge, a nice thing happening,” said city engineer and assistant public works director Jim Parvey during Tacoma City Council’s noon study session on Tuesday. Parvey provided councilmembers with an update on a rehabilitation project currently under way on the 98-year-old bridge. “There is a nest of peregrine falcons on the bridge so we’re trying to work with them to either get the family re-located or re-sequence our work to allow the babies to move off the bridge so we can finish that area.”

It’s not the first time falcons have nested on the bridge. In 2005, the bridge deck could not be lowered from its raised position for more than a week when a falcon nest was discovered. The fledglings eventually flew away and the bridge deck was lowered. In 2001, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) installed a video camera to peer in on two falcons named Guy and Mickee, whose nest contained four eggs. Visitors to the Washington State History Museum could monitor the birds on a live video feed in the building’s lobby. State and federal regulations protect the birds.

The Murray Morgan Bridge was closed to motor vehicles Oct. 23, 2007, due to safety concerns that arose after weeks of inspections by WSDOT engineers. In 2008, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation included the bridge on its annual list of Most Endangered Properties. Also in 2008, the bridge was included on Historic Tacoma’s “Watch List” of endangered historic sites. Eventually, the bridge was closed completely to all traffic, including pedestrians and bicyclists, while contractors replaced wire lift cables.

In January of this year, Tacoma City Council unanimously approved a purchase resolution that awards a $49.2 million contract to PCL Construction Services of Bellevue, Wash., to fully rehabilitate the Murray Morgan Bridge and restore motor vehicle traffic to the bridge. In April, city officials held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the bridge’s rehabilitation project, which includes painting the bridge black, adding bike lanes and sidewalks, replacing the mechanical and electrical systems that operate the lift span, and repairing the bridge deck.

Parvey said the project should be completed by December 2012. “We want to be ready to celebrate the [bridge’s] 100th anniversary with an event of crossing the bridge,” said Parvey.

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For earlier Index coverage of the Murray Morgan Bridge, visit the Index’s archives online for the following articles:

Murray Morgan Bridge groundbreaking ceremony April 19 (04/04/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1952495&more=0

Murray Morgan Bridge to be painted black (03/24/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1947063&more=0

Back In Black? City proposal would paint Murray Morgan Bridge (03/21/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1944705&more=0

$49M contract approved for Murray Morgan Bridge rehab (01/05/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1903227&more=0

Tacoma City Council votes Tuesday on $49M Murray Morgan Bridge rehab contract (01/03/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1901573&more=0

$20M WSDOT loan would complete Murray Morgan Bridge rehab (09/01/10) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1831924&more=0

Bicyclists, pedestrians return to Murray Morgan Bridge (03/31/10) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1743750&more=0

Murray Morgan Bridge ribbon-cutting March 31 (03/18/10) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1735862&more=0

Murray Morgan Makeover (02/09/10)

Steel cables, heavy equipment signal beginning of Murray Morgan Bridge rehab (01/25/10)

Bridge Support: A chorus of praise for saving Murray Morgan Bridge (12/04/09)

Tacoma City Council approves Murray Morgan Bridge agreement (12/02/09)

City Council to vote Dec. 1 on Murray Morgan Bridge agreement (11/25/09)

Tacoma closer to owning Murray Morgan Bridge (11/19/09)

Murray Morgan Bridge rehab delayed (10/08/09)

Contract awarded for Murray Morgan Bridge cable project (06/17/09)

City, State Murray Morgan Bridge funding negotiations will continue (05/06/09)

Murray Morgan Mojo: $3 million project to replace bridge cables ready to begin (12/16/08)

City, State consider innovative financing plan for Murray Morgan Bridge rehab (12/11/08)

2008 Washington State Endangered Historic Properties — Murray Morgan Bridge (06/11/08)

Murray Morgan Bridge’s Endangered Legacy (05/30/08)

Murray Morgan Bridge tops list of Washington Trust’s annual Most Endangered Historic Properties (05/27/08)

Murray Morgan Bridge closure expensive decision (10/31/07)