The days of taking a dip by jumping legally from two heavily traveled Lake Tapps bridges may soon be over.
Bridge-jumpers and their friends typically park along busy two-lane roads that cross the bridges, creating traffic hazards, said Pierce County Councilman Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake.
And people who jump off the bridges into the water below are taking a risk, Roach said. Two years ago, a 20-year-old man died after leaping off the bridge at the north end of the lake.
The council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted 5-0 last week to recommend banning jumping from both bridges. The seven-member County Council is expected to approve the bans in about three weeks.
The restrictions, if adopted, will mark the second time in a little more than a year that the council has put bridge-jumping prohibitions in place. In August 2011, the council barred jumping and swimming at the bridge over Spanaway Lake to Enchanted Island.
Jumping and swimming already are illegal at seven other bridges over large bodies of water in unincorporated Pierce County.
Under the new bans, violators could be cited for a civil infraction and fined $120.
One overpass bridge is on Sumner-Tapps Highway East at the north end of Lake Tapps at Fairweather Cove. The second span is on 218th Avenue East on the lake’s southeast end.
Roach said traffic on roads crossing the bridges has increased as the area’s population has grown in the past decade. Parked cars add to the hazard.
“They pack the cars in there so they can do either jumping or swimming,” Roach said.
Charley Sing, 20, of Algona died in an apparent drowning after jumping from the Sumner-Tapps Highway bridge in July 2010. He was in a car with friends when they stopped at the bridge to make the 20- to 25-foot dive into the water, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reported. Sing reportedly disappeared after struggling.
Roach said he sponsored the ordinance in response to two complaints over the summer about the 218th Avenue East bridge and his own knowledge of the bridge on Sumner-Tapps Highway East.
“When I was a kid I jumped off this bridge,” Roach said.
He recalled that experience he had as a teenager on a June day.
“You hit that water and it was ice-cold,” Roach said. Even though he was a strong swimmer, Roach said, “It was a scary deal. I jumped once and that was it. I was done.”
The speed limit on Sumner-Tapps Highway East, including the bridge, is 35 mph. Swimming and fishing already are prohibited at that bridge.
The speed limit for 218th Avenue East is 40 mph. The ordinance would ban jumping, swimming and fishing at the 218th Avenue East bridge.Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647