The city of Sumner is planning to replace two major bridges, including one pegged for replacement as early as 2015 that is currently far below state standards for structural integrity.
Sumner was already in the planning process to replace the Bridge Street bridge well before the May 23 collapse of the Skagit River bridge, which drew attention to bridge conditions across the nation.
Replacing the 93-year-old steel-truss span, beloved by the community and known for its annual Christmas light display, will improve safety and accommodate increased traffic flow on Valley Avenue East, officials say.
We dont wait for our bridges to fall down to fix them, Mayor Dave Enslow said. It was pretty clear (the Bridge Street bridge) needed replacing. So we got busy and found the money to replace it.
Built in 1920, the structure has a minimum sufficiency rating of 11.3, well below the states standard of 50 used for prioritizing bridges for replacement. The narrow, two-lane bridge carries about 7,500 vehicles on average daily, connecting Sumners downtown corridor with North Puyallup and Edgewood.
We need that connection to the east side of the (White River), said Sumner city engineer Mike Dahlem.
The city has $9.6 million in federal grant money secured for the $12 million project. The remainder will be covered by taxpayers through the citys street fund.
The bridge qualified for federal funding due to its low sufficiency rating, Dahlem said.
Additionally, the city announced last week that it received a federal grant to begin planning replacement of another, more heavily traveled span on the north end of the city.
The city has secured $1.2 million in funding for the Stewart Road/8th Street bridge over the White River, which has average daily traffic of about 13,000 vehicles. Engineers continue to apply for funds as they prepare for an environmental review of the project.
The Stewart Road bridge is rated 50.52, barely over the states priority replacement limit.
The citys plans come at a time when people in Pierce County and the rest of Washington state are more mindful of bridge ratings after the steel-truss bridge over the Skagit River collapsed, which disrupted a major Interstate 5 corridor.
That bridge was rated functionally obsolete, meaning the design is outdated in meeting current traffic demands.
The Bridge Street bridge in Sumner is rated both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient, meaning it requires repair or replacement of a certain component or the entire structure.
Dahlem said its also considered fracture critical, which refers to bridges with a component whose failure could cause the entire bridge to collapse. The Skagit River bridge also was fracture critical, and its north span collapsed when an oversized tractor-trailer struck part of the bridge.
Last year, Sumner imposed a weight limit of 12 tons on its steel-truss bridge, which also has a height limit just more than 14 feet. Dahlem said East Pierce Fire & Rescue had to adjust its response procedures to keep overweight emergency vehicles off the span.
The bridge is popular in Sumner, and some have been hesitant about replacing it, Dahlem said.
The Bridge Street bridge has been kind of an icon to the city, he said.
Dave Radcliffe, CEO of The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse located near the bridge across the river, sat in on the selection process for the designer, BergerABAM. Engineers are working on a design process that will involve the public.
City spokeswoman Carmen Palmer said planners are mindful of the heritage of the bridge, and are hoping to design a new one that holds true to that identity.
Some residents and visitors know the structure for its lights displayed during the holiday season that are provided by The Old Cannery. Some council members and citizens want to continue that tradition, Dahlem said.
Engineers are in the pre-design phase for a new bridge, looking at the potential type, size and location.
The city is reviewing whether to rebuild a steel-truss bridge or replace the trusses with concrete girders. Dahlem said funding agencies will pay only for the least expensive replacement, and steel-truss bridges are a costly option.
It will cost the city more upfront to put in a truss bridge and in the long run it will be more maintenance, he said.
Dahlem said engineers hope to present plans to the City Council later this year, with the goal of completing construction by 2015.
The method for building the new bridge will be determined after that, and it is unknown if the city will close the bridge for construction. Dahlem said the city will work to minimize disruption to businesses and commuters.
The Stewart Road bridge replacement is still a few years out, Dahlem said. The city is awaiting further funding for the $14 million project.
The city is planning to erect the bridge alongside a long-awaited trail project that would link the Interurban and Foothills trails, two regional trail systems that span several cities in Pierce and King counties. The project would complete 70 miles of trails connecting Seattle and Mount Rainier.
(Sumner has) always been the missing link, Dahlem said.
He said the bridge and trail projects will improve both traffic flow and walkability.
Palmer, the city spokeswoman, said both bridge projects are important for Sumner to protect its sense of community.
Our vision is to set the standard of excellence for a progressive small city, she said. (Bridges) are important for safety, emergency response, recreation, commerce and economic development.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682