Safety concerns prompt Tacoma to close Tideflats bridge

The City of Tacoma is closing a 103-year-old bridge on the Tideflats to all traffic in a few weeks.

The bridge, which carries vehicles on East 11th Street over the Puyallup River between East Portland Avenue and Milwaukee Way, was built in 1911.

The closure is based on a recent inspection report that found structural concerns, said Tacoma Public Works Director Kurtis Kingsolver. The bridge’s condition requires that it be inspected every year.

Repairing the bridge and its viaduct could cost $40 million. The alternative, demolition, would cost $10 million.

“It’s going to be difficult to replace. It’s going to be difficult to get funding for it,” Kingsolver said. “Unfortunately this is kind of a nationwide problem where bridge infrastructure is deteriorating.”

Kingsolver said the city will evaluate whether to allow pedestrians and cyclists to continue crossing the structure.

In 2005, the city implemented weight restrictions on the bridge, barring any vehicle heavier than 10 tons, including buses, emergency traffic and freight. Since that time, various bridge components have corroded, according to a city press release.

About 2,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.

“Many of our employees and visitors are among the 2,000 cars a day who use it,” port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said in an email. “We are working on maps to help our employees, contractors and other visitors find safe alternate routes to our administration and maintenance buildings.”

Earlier this year, the city implemented weight restrictions on another bridge crossing the Puyallup River connecting Puyallup Avenue and Pacific Highway. Heavy vehicles have taken a different route between Fife and Tacoma since May.