Tacoma’s Puyallup River bridge opening date delayed … again

Drivers will have to wait a bit longer for the opening of the bridge over the Puyallup River between Tacoma and Fife.

The span now is expected to open in August or September, about six months behind the original estimated opening date.

That date still could change as crews work on the final stages of the replacement, city of Tacoma spokeswoman Stacy Ellifritt told The News Tribune on Tuesday.

The bridge, owned by the city, crosses the river east of Portland Avenue East and Puyallup Avenue and was closed a little more than a year ago for a $42 million project to replace three parts of the span. Placement of new girders over the railroad tracks was completed in March.

The original time line called for an opening date of February 2019, but that was pushed back to springtime due to winter weather conditions.

Now, spring has nearly come and gone. Still no new bridge.


“The reason for the fluctuating time line is that an inspection of the remaining bridge showed the need to replace six bearings, and the city determined the best time to do this was while the bridge was closed,” Ellifritt said in an email.

In December, the city awarded a separate $790,000 contract for that work to avoid a future closure to replace the bearings, which have deteriorated over time. The bearings are located on the existing trusses that will remain over the river and Union Pacific rails on the Fife side of the bridge, Ellifritt said.

Bearings are features that allow for controlled movement of the bridge to reduce physical stress on it.

Weather and coordination “around a heavily active rail corridor” also played a part in the delayed opening, Ellifritt said.

Last month, the Tacoma City Council approved renaming the bridge to Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge to strengthen the relationship with the Puyallup Tribe.

“I think it’s going to help provide education. People will be driving by the bridge, they’re going to see this artwork, these signs and these words … and it will cause them to wonder just what it was,” Puyallup Tribe Councilman Bill Sterud told The News Tribune’s Matt Driscoll last month.

Eells Street, which is the street over the bridge, will be renamed Fishing Wars Memorial Crossing.