The city of Puyallup is inching closer to replacing the Milwaukee Bridge, a box girder span connecting Milwaukee Avenue and Fifth Street Northeast that carries an average of more than 10,000 vehicles a day.
The Puyallup City Council unanimously approved a contract with consultant Berger ABAM of Federal Way last week to begin the first phase of the nearly $12.6 million project.
The $1.2 million contract allows design and land acquisition to begin. The city is required to cover about $234,000 in the first phase, part of its obligation to match 20 percent of total project costs. The city must pay a total of about $2.58 million over the course of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015, with completion in 2018.
Public Works Director Rob Andreotti said staff will continue to seek grants to help cover the city’s obligation. If grant funding isn’t secured, the general fund will cover the cost; a memo from Andreotti states that there is about $937,000 in outside funding so far.
Councilman Steve Vermillion expressed concern about the city shouldering costs for such a large project and said he would address the issue with state legislators in the upcoming session.
“We aren’t in the business of replacing bridges,” he said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “That’s a pretty big undertaking.”
Fellow Councilman John Hopkins said the bridge serves more than just Puyallup.
“It is a bridge to Pierce County. There should be more cooperation from Pierce County since they equally benefit,” Hopkins said, adding that any money spent on replacing the bridge is taking away from “neighborhood road building” in Puyallup.
Built by Pierce County in 1961, the Milwaukee Bridge was brought into the city in 2005 as part of a larger annexation requested by a private owner with property just north of the span. Puyallup officials determined annexation made sense to straighten out city boundary lines and because other property owners had expressed interest in annexation.
The bridge carries a rating of 15.32 out of 100 and is deemed both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient, meaning its design is outdated, and it requires replacement of some or all of the span.
The remaining lifespan is pegged at roughly 10 years.
“Depending on future bridge inspection results, closure of the bridge could be sooner than the expected 10-year lifespan,” Andreotti said in the memo to the council.
The width of the replacement bridge must be nearly double the current 26 feet. To meet the 50-foot standard, the city likely will have to purchase adjacent property.
In addition to approving the contract, the City Council unanimously voted to name the new structure the Veterans Memorial Bridge.