Special Reports

War Memorial Park will rise again

What happened to War Memorial Park, the little patch of green under the Tacoma end of the Narrows Bridge?

It was dispersed.

The tiny park stood squarely in the way one of the massive anchorages for the new $849 million suspension bridge being built across the Narrows.

The soil on the 21/2-acre site, which was fine for rhododendrons and daffodils, turned out to be contaminated with lead, arsenic and cadmium from the old Ruston copper smelter.

The bridge builders - Tacoma Narrows Constructors - trucked 13,000 cubic yards of topsoil from the park to the Tideflats and then hauled it by rail to a disposal site in Eastern Washington.

Thousands more cubic yards of clean soil, taken from the excavation for the 90 million-pound anchorage, was hauled across the bridge to the Gig Harbor side, where it was used as fill for a temporary office park for construction managers.

The 75-foot flagpole was carefully extracted and sent to storage, along with the 1903 ship's bell from the USS Tacoma and a marble plaque honoring the crew of the USS Copahee.

A 20-foot stonewall with sandstone plaque was hauled under the bridge to what now is a parking lot for bridge workers.

But the park will rise again.

Plans call for a replacement park farther east on Highway 16, at a 3.7-acre triangle bordered by Jackson Avenue and the Jackson Avenue onramp.

The old monuments will be carefully replaced at that site beginning this year, according to the state Department of Transportation, which promises better access and better views.

Rob Carson 253-597-8693