More funding needed for Puyallup River Bridge design

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to spend an additional $569,068 on a design plan for replacing a 950 foot segment of the Puyallup River Bridge. If approved, it would be the second time in less than two years the city’s contract with the design firm David Evans and Associates has been amended. On June 8, 2010, City Council approved a resolution increasing the original contract from approximately $1.5 million to approximately $2.9 million. It would also bring the total value of the contract to just under $3.5 million.

“Over the past year, Tacoma has requested David Evans and Associates provide even more additional support and design to address design and construction details in dealing with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific Railroad, Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians,” wrote Tacoma Public Works Director Richard E. McKinley in a Jan. 3 letter supporting the request. “This additional support supplanted some of the original scope. This resolution will provide for these supplanted work items and also support during the advertisement and award phase.”

The design phase of the project is being paid for through federal funds. Subsequent phases such as property acquisition and construction are funded through a variety of sources, including $12.6 million in federal bridge funds; $6 million in federal surface transportation program funding; $5 million from the state’s Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board; and $1.4 million from the City of Tacoma. In total, $25 million of the $38.7 million needed to replace the 950-foot segment is funded.

According to McKinley, the bridge design is 90 per cent complete, and the additional money being requested will allow David Evans and Associates to complete the design drawings by March. In addition, the environmental phase is 95 per cent complete, with a shoreline permit through the City of Tacoma and a wetlands permit through the Army Corps. of Engineers scheduled to be completed by summer, according to McKinley.

This first phase is only one part of a larger plan to replace the entire 84-year-old, 2,453-foot-long Puyallup River Bridge.

“Once the construction phase is fully funded, the bridge replacement project will take approximately two years,” wrote McKinley. “During the first year, the bridge will remain open while shop drawings and the assembly of pre-manufactured parts are completed. The second year will require the closure of the bridge for the demolition of the existing bridge and constructing the new cable-stayed bridge.”

The project has worked its way through City Hall for many years.

Last April, Kurtis Kingsolver presented an update on the plan during City Council’s environment and public works committee meeting. At the time, he reported the project would be tackled in three phases. In addition to the first phase currently under way, later phases would cost $4.4 million and $44 million, respectively.

The same committee was briefed on the project in 2008. At the time, city project manager Jim Parvey said two bridge sections totaling 800 feet, located just east of Portland Avenue, and spanning a set of railroad tracks operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, needed the most attention because the main deficiencies were failed columns supported by wood and steel shoring. Two designs for this section of the bridge were proposed: a steel arch bridge with concrete girders, and a cable-stay bridge. However, Parvey said, the steel structure would not provide the vertical clearance needed for track improvements Burlington Northern Santa Fe would like to complete in order to more efficiently move freight in and out of the Port of Tacoma. During that meeting, the council committee approved a do-pass recommendation for the cable-stay bridge design.

The Puyallup River Bridge stretches from Portland Avenue, across railroad tracks and the Puyallup River, and into Fife. According to the Regional Transportation Improvement Program, the bridge carries over 16,000 vehicles a day.

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More money needed for $32.5M Puyallup River Bridge replacement (04/27/11) —

Broken Link: Partnership sought for Puyallup River Bridge replacement (11/06/08)