Murray Morgan Makeover

Contractors were hard at work yesterday replacing the wire lift cables on Tacoma's 97-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge. The center span...

Contractors were hard at work yesterday replacing the wire lift cables on Tacoma’s 97-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge. The center span has been raised, netting has been placed beneath the east and west bridge ramps, and workers scaled the bridge’s steel structure, which spans Thea Foss Waterway.

The bridge was closed completely to all traffic Feb. 1 (the bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic for more than two years) after years of deferred maintenance and neglect. It was closed to motor vehicles Oct. 23, 2007, due to safety concerns that arose after weeks of inspections by Washington State Department of Transportation (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 historic sites.

The full rehabilitation plan has called for replacing the wire lift cables, rehabilitating the center truss span, completing both of the bridge approaches, and completing seismic enhancements.

In June 2009, a contract was awarded to Rongin’s Inc. to replace the cables. The work was slated to begin Oct. 17. However, WSDOT, which owned the bridge at the time, informed City Hall that the wire rope did not meet certain specifications. The bridge’s rehabilitation would remain on hold.

In the meantime, on Dec. 1, Tacoma City Council approved a resolution that reverted ownership of the bridge back to the City of Tacoma. WSDOT took responsibility of the bridge in the mid-1990s while it constructed State Route 509 from Interstate 705 to Milwaukee Avenue. According to an earlier agreement, the State agreed to return the bridge back to the City once SR 509 was completed.

According to the resolution approved by city council in December, Washington State has agreed to provide the City approximately $10.8 million dollars in state funds, and $26.2 million in Federal Highway Administration funds toward rehabilitation; the City agreed to accept ownership of the bridge in its current condition, “extinguish[ing] any real of implied agreements between Tacoma and Washington State regarding future bridge expenditures”; and WSDOT will support the City in its effort to secure additional federal funds to rehabilitate the bridge.

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For earlier Index coverage of the Murray Morgan Bridge, click on the following links:

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) —

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