Fife seeks new limits to keep big trucks off Milroy Bridge

Staff writerMarch 12, 2014 

The city of Fife could soon add traffic restrictions that would keep some big trucks off of a busy bridge connecting the city to a major Puyallup Valley thoroughfare.

In a first reading Tuesday night, the Fife City Council unanimously approved a proposal that would prohibit “motor vehicles with a combined overall trailer length greater than 28 feet from traveling westbound on Levee Road East from 70th Avenue East to the western city limits,” according to a city memo.

If approved in a final vote, the proposal would keep any trucks with a total length of 28 feet or more from traveling over the George Milroy Bridge.

The structure over the Puyallup River at 66th Avenue East and River Road already has a height limit, but the extra restrictions are aimed at stopping ongoing traffic problems caused by the oversized vehicles.

In a memo to the City Council, Public Works Director Russ Blount said the bridge's narrow lanes make it impossible for vehicles that large to use the bridge “without using lanes designated for opposing traffic.”

The Milroy Bridge – built in 1931 and rated 37.75 out of 100 – is considered functionally obsolete and fracture critical, meaning it is far narrower than comparable contemporary bridges and failure of one component could cause failure of the entire span. 

The steel-truss structure is jointly owned by the city and Pierce County, and carries an average of 10,400 vehicles a day. 

Many residents and commuters have expressed concern over large trucks holding up the intersection and forcing cars to back off the bridge in order for them to cross.

Carole Sue Braaten of Fife spoke Tuesday night in favor of tightening restrictions.

“I believe this is a wise decision for the council to make,” she said, adding that she was recently forced forced off the bridge along with two other cars so a tractor trailer could make it across.

Departing Councilman Glenn Hull said “real life situations will dictate whether 28 (feet) is short enough,” but he is glad that more specific limits have been drafted. 

Late last year, the council sought to ban all tractor trailers from using the bridge, passing a formal request that was forwarded to the Pierce County Council.

County officials are still reviewing how to handle limitations on roadways that lead to the Milroy Bridge in unincorporated Pierce County, but Blount indicated Tuesday that they were on the same page as Fife. 

“They are a couple of months away from getting through their council process on that,” he said.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
Follow Kari on Twitter: @KariPlog

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