The Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma, Washington was so structurally unsound that State officials barred vehicles from crossing it in 2007. With a bridge sufficiency rating of 2 out of a possible 100, the bridge was two points away from, literally, crumbling to the ground.
The 100-year old Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma, WA.
The PCL project team and the City of Tacoma install the
sheaving for the vertical lift on the Murray Morgan Bridge.
“The bridge had not been very well maintained during the past few decades and it had been further eroded by weather exposure,” said Tom Rutherford, project manager for the City of Tacoma. “Although it deserved its low rating, there was still plenty of good steel in it.”
As the city debated the bridge’s fate (demolition or rehabilitation), the Tacoma community marshaled enough support to save the iconic bridge from demolition. Today the city is toasting a restored, revitalized, and safe bridge that will continue to serve the community for years to come.
ADORED AND TREASURED
Built in 1913 and originally named 11th Street Bridge, the Murray Morgan Bridge connects downtown Tacoma with the industrial tide flats and Port of Tacoma. Around 5,000 vehicles cross over the bridge each day.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge was renamed the Murray Morgan Bridge in 1997, honoring local author, journalist and historian, Murray Morgan, who worked as a bridge tender on the bridge in the 1950s.
PCL was hired by the city of Tacoma to restore the historic landmark. The PCL project team reinforced the bridge’s steel girders and columns, converted two former traffic lanes into bicycle and pedestrian pathways, and painted the bridge black, restoring it to its original color.
Rutherford says the bridge reduces response time for the city’s emergency vehicles and provides an egress in which people can efficiently exit the tide flats in the event of a crisis.
Tyler VanderLinden, PCL project manager for the bridge rehabilitation, said that the design-build project required high levels of coordination with clients and subcontractors and the ability to adapt to changing project scopes including the addition of an elevator and adjacent stairway.
“Every project is challenging and the entire project team needs to be able to adapt to change,” said VanderLinden. “The extra work we took on at the request of the City of Tacoma only added a month of building time.”
REASON TO CELEBRATE
Approximately 500 people gathered in February 2013 for the official rededication ceremony and 100 year anniversary celebration of the Murray Morgan Bridge. Instead of champagne, which was used in the original dedication, Lane Morgan, daughter of Murray Morgan, christened the bridge with 11th Street IPA (India Pale Ale) from Harmon’s Microbrewery in Tacoma. Brewed specially for the rededication and 100 year anniversary, the brew aptly consists of eleven varieties of hops and has an International Bitterness Units (IBU) level of 100. The IBU scale is used to indicate the perceived bitterness of beer.
Rutherford said the ceremony united the entire downtown community and set the tone for the future of this bridge.
“I really enjoyed working with PCL," said Rutherford. “The finished project and maintenance program we’ve put in place will ensure that the Murray Morgan Bridge can safely last another 100 years.”