For generations of Puyallup residents, most have fond memories going across the Puyallup River Bridge. With a ribbon-cutting on Thursday, followed by a brief closure over the weekend, the original bridge from the 1920s will be closed permanently to traffic.
Puyallup resident and business owner Bill Korum says he remembers crossing the bridge many times on Saturdays as a child to help out at his father’s dealership.
“The first time I went across it was in 1956,” Korum recalled at Thursday’s ceremony.
Korum and his grandkids were the first to walk across the bridge, to signal a new bridge for a new generation.
Skate Tiffany's Family Fun Center owner Dennis King and his 4-year-old daughter, Kensington, were the first to skate across. King bought the rink from his parents eight years ago, but the business has been adjacent to the historic bridge for the last 40 years.
Keeping with the theme of a new bridge for a new generation, Kensington and her dad skated across the new bridge and back — a feat not many will be able to say they too can accomplish now that a steady stream of cars are on the stretch of road daily.
“We’re commemorating the opening of the new bridge,” said Kevin Dayton, regional administrator with the Washington State Department of Transportation. “We got 90 years out of this bridge.”
At the time the bridge was new, Calvin Coolidge was president and Babe Ruth was in the heyday of his career, Dayton said.
The new bridge was 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. It has wider lanes and shoulders, and also meets Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards with an 8-foot-wide sidewalk for bicyclist and pedestrians. Currently, the $30 million project is on budget and on schedule.
In August, the 1925 bridge will be relocated to nearby property, while its future will be decided. The historic bridge has been offered to Pierce County for use as a footbridge. The project is expected to wrap up in October.