Funding approved for Tacoma Avenue South Bridge design

Tacoma City Council approved a purchase resolution Tuesday that directs approximately $1.2 million toward design services necessary to rehabilitate the Tacoma Avenue South Bridge.

According to city staff, the bridge’s beams, sidewalks, guardrails and deck have deteriorated to the point that two of the four traffic lanes and the sidewalks are closed and signs have been posted announcing reduced truck loads. The bridge serves as a key transportation corridor between downtown Tacoma and the Lincoln International Business District and allows businesses, commuters, schools, and emergency vehicles to circulate freely within Tacoma, according to city staff.

Last year, the city accepted a $7.1 million federal grant to help pay for the project. It will also use bond funds.

The purchase resolution approved by councilmembers awards a contract to Bellevue-based TranTech Engineering to complete the bridge design. Once the design team investigates the bridge deficiencies and is able to propose options for rehabilitating the bridge, city staff will meet with the neighborhood and business districts to inform them about the project and receive input regarding the new design.

Ideally, the city’s public works staff want to remove the existing concrete deck of the 80-year-old bridge, install a center lane with one lane in each direction, and replace the existing five-foot-wide sidewalks with six-foot-wide sidewalks and bike lanes. The hope is that the existing steel structure can be preserved because it is believed the original bridge was designed for rail and is strong enough to support a new bridge deck, city staff told councilmembers Tuesday.

The bridge design is expected to be completed next year. The overall project is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

The city will begin design work soon to rehabilitate the Tacoma Avenue South Bridge. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)