Every day, like clockwork, rush hour plagues locals and visitors alike on state Route 167 as cars file into Puyallup and Tacoma via the Puyallup River Bridge.
The bridge that was built in 1925 will soon be replaced this summer once construction is complete. As part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s goal to fix the state’s aging infrastructure, the governor paid a visit to Puyallup on May 27 to see firsthand how the Department of Transportation’s project — funded by the Federal Surface Transportation Program — will impact the local community and its economy.
The new bridge is being built by Guy F. Atkinson Construction Company and Jacobs Engineering. It will not have additional lanes, but is being built with expansions as a possibility if funds become available. Currently, the $30 million project is on budget and on schedule.
As Puyallup Mayor John Knutsen put it, the SR 167 Puyallup River Bridge is the gateway to Puyallup and the annual Washington State Fair. The bridge brings nostalgia for the Puyallup native, as he recalled walking across it as a boy.
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“The bridge is a wonderful thing,” he said of the historic landmark. “It is our main northern exposure to the fair and to the community. Thank you to the state for helping us with this project.”
With the bridge found to be historically significant, and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the old bridge will be relocated until it can be used as a possible part of the River Walk Trail.
According to Inslee, the project is a tremendous example of a creative solution when everybody comes together, including the City of Puyallup, the DOT, Atkinson Construction and Jacobs Engineering.
“This bridge will feed into the future of 167,” Inslee said. “We want them to get across the finish line with this. This project is extremely important to the state, not just Pierce County.”
The importance of easing congestion on 167 was highlighted by Puyallup City Manager Kevin Yamamoto.
“The Washington economy struggles when there are roads to nowhere and people stuck in congestion,” he said. “We need that done, and we need that done this go-around.”
Not only is it important to citizens but for businesses as well.
“This bridge means good things for our city and businesses,” Puyallup/Sumner Chamber President Shelly Schlumpf said. “When Meridian is backed up, it means people aren’t frequenting those businesses.”
The SR 167 Puyallup River Bridge is expected to open to traffic in early July. In late August, the original 1925 bridge will be relocated to a WSDOT right of way while its future as a potential trail bridge is decided. The entire project is expected to be completed by October.