Sumner’s Bridge Street bridge closed for good Monday as traffic was redirected onto the new bridge beside it.
Crews started construction on the new bridge in May.
“It’ll be a much more comfortable drive across the bridge for all vehicles,” Sumner communications director Carmen Palmer said.
With traffic directed to the new bridge, crews have started removing the old bridge. The concrete deck will be cleared away first, to make the bridge light enough to move with cranes. The process will take about three weeks.
While it’s safe for cars to travel, construction of the new bridge is not yet finished. A portion of it will be built where the old bridge currently sits.
The city secured $15 million in state and federal grants for the project, mostly from the Transportation Improvement Board and the state Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee. Another $2 million came from city funds.
Total completion of the bridge is set for next year.
After it’s removed, the old bridge will be disassembled, but a piece of it will be kept at a small park across from The Old Cannery, near the new bridge.
At 90 years old, the old Bridge Street bridge is an iconic structure in Sumner and was a common site for community events such as the Santa Parade and the Come Walk with Me event to support breast cancer programs.
While popular, it’s also notorious for traffic congestion. Trucks are not allowed on the old bridge, and pedestrians and bicyclists have to carefully maneuver a tight space alongside traffic.
“We lost so many side mirrors on that bridge,” Palmer said.
While it’s still two lanes, the new bridge will be more roomy for both vehicles and pedestrians.
If the new bridge isn’t as pretty as its predecessor, don’t worry, said Palmer. It will no longer have historical truss but will be equipped with decorative railings and lights.
City staff hopes the new bridge will stand on its own as a community structure.