Tacoma Urbanist

Feb. 28, 2008 at 12:05am

Engineers: Murray Morgan Bridge Can Be Saved

Recently, the State of Washington recently shut down Murray Morgan Bridge.  State officials stated that Tacoma's beloved bridge was beyond help.  It was not only a danger, they said, but it was beyond hope.

Here's Kevin blogging away on the bridge unimpeded by vehicular traffic:



(photo by Gavin via Kevin Freitas)

http://www.kevinfreitas.net/journal/photos-portraits-by-gavin/#photos

Guess what? The independent engineers conclude that the bridge is saveable:

A preliminary report from David and Evans and Associates concludes the bridge can be rehabilitated for approximately $80 million. That’s far less than the $135 million estimate for replacing the bridge, and not far from a 2004 estimate of $80 million for a rehabilitation....

Mayor Bill Baarsma called the report “big news” and “good news.” “The big news is that we don’t need to build a new bridge,” Baarsma said.

 http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/updates/story/295191.html




http://www.flickr.com/photos/tacoma-cartoonist-society/2267324931/

Photo from RR Anderson

Commentary

Kudos to the City Council for ordering a independent evaluation of the viability of the bridge.  It would have been so easy to go with the state's death sentence.

The State of Washington's failure to maintain the bridge led many to believe that the state wanted it to fall apart so they could be free of the maintenance of it.  Its shouldn't cost much to repair.  A mere $80,000,000 to repair it, hopefully paid by the state if our legislators are able to pull it off in Olympia.

If one is looking for the authentic character of Tacoma, the Murray Morgan Bridge would be it.  It didn't look so blighted ("gritty") until after decades of neglect.  When they repair it, they should make it look spiffy like it was after it was constructed rather than from of a scene from "Escape From New York."

comments [17]  |  posted under tacoma, washington

Comments

by Twisty on 2/28/2008 @ 11:13am
I don't get it. I really just don't get it.

This bridge is a horrific eyesore of monstrous proportions. We should be GLAD that it will be gone soon. We should be thanking our lucky stars that we have the opportunity to have it removed at the state's expense!

by Erik on 2/28/2008 @ 11:34am
This bridge is a horrific eyesore of monstrous proportions. We should be GLAD that it will be gone soon. We should be thanking our lucky stars that we have the opportunity to have it removed at the state's expense!

Would your opinion change Twisty if the Murray Morgan Bridge was not so rusted and neglected? If it was fixed up do you think it might look nice?

Why do you consider the bridge an eyesore?

by intacoma on 2/28/2008 @ 11:36am
If we tear it down it would be a big win for us Tacoma Magic Carpet User Group (TMCUG) members.


by Twisty on 2/28/2008 @ 12:08pm
That's a fair question, Erik.

My answer: no. The condition of the bridge makes little difference. I am a life-long Tacoman; I have memories of the bridge from the 1960s. It was ugly then, too.

In my eyes, it's not a problem that can be covered up by a coat of paint. The bridge was designed for brute-force utility, not for aesthetics (the designers were highly successful in that regard), at a time when people understood that everything east of 'A' Street was to be industrial. Nobody contemplated the possibility that people would want to built dwellings on the industrial waterfront, and I think the character of the bridge clearly shows that.

As I've said before, here on this blog, if we are going to blow (yes, 'blow') a hundred million bucks on an unnecessary bridge over the Foss, let's put in another one of those snazzy cable-stay bridges. At least then we can have niftier-looking postcards.

by KevinFreitas on 2/28/2008 @ 12:30pm
Pretty sure a new bridge price tag will far exceed $100 million. I really think this connection to the other side of the Foss should be preserved. To me the Murray Morgan and 509 bridges compliment one another well. What two better icons are there that represent our industrial heritage and our "wired" modern ways?

by Erik on 2/28/2008 @ 12:36pm
$80M is actually pretty cheap for bridges. The legislature is thinking of constructing a $4 Billion dollar 520 bridge.

I would think a cement replacement bridge where the MM bridge is now would be far too boring. The MM is not majestic like the San Francisco bridge. Yet, I think there is some value in the uniqueness of it and people seem to like it or at least react to it in some manner.

by AP on 2/28/2008 @ 12:42pm
I really think this connection to the other side of the Foss should be preserved

I agree - access to one of the most productive regions of the city should remain. The new overpass by Freighthouse will help a lot, however.

I am laughing out loud to myself over the concept of MMB's aesthetic 'beauty' or lack thereof. Does it really matter what the bridge looks like? The tide flats are not pretty. They never will be. A bridge does little to add or detract from an industrial landscape. The new residents will still be looking at rusty tankers and smokestacks in any scenario.

Also, tell me if I'm alone on this one: all bridges are ugly. Period. Golden Gate, Narrows, 509 cables.. all of em. I had never realized that transportation systems could be judged on how pretty they are. In fact, I'm still not realizing...

by Erik on 2/28/2008 @ 4:55pm
Now that we are on the subject. Let's be pro-active.

Let's light up the the Murray Morgan Bridge when it is restored.

by thriceallamerican on 2/28/2008 @ 4:57pm
Uh, doesn't it already have uplights?

by intacoma on 2/28/2008 @ 5:04pm
I think Erik is thinking like the narrows bridge light project


by Twisty on 2/28/2008 @ 5:05pm
"Does it really matter what the bridge looks like?"

Well, yes.

If aesthetics didn't matter, there would be a LOT less carping about things like the Park Plazas, for instance.

Lookit, folks... we have an opportunity to get rid of this thing on the State's dime, or we can blow BIG money fixing it. If we fix it, only a tiny handful of citizens and businesses will benefit. I can think of a boatload of better uses for $80M that will benefit the entire city, and not just a few wealthy condo owners.

by Erik on 2/28/2008 @ 5:18pm
I can think of a boatload of better uses for $80M that will benefit the entire city, and not just a few wealthy condo owners.

Unfortunately, the state isn't going to give Tacoma $80M to play around with if they don't fix the bridge. As for the use, it is mainly for the access to the other side for safety purposes and to connect the Dome District and industrial area to Tacoma. Right now, Tacoma is paying something like a million a year to supplement fire service because of the bridge loss.

I haven't seen too many of the "wealthy" over at Freighthouse Square or the industrial area or in Tacoma at all for that matter.

I think Erik is thinking like the narrows bridge light project

Yeah. Possibly something like that. Who knows. If it is worth saving, it is worth showing off.

by Twisty on 2/28/2008 @ 6:02pm
Point well taken, Erik. I missed the part about the state paying the $80M for repairs (not that I really think that is going to happen).

That said...

The Dome district is already being connected to the industrial area via the new overpass at D St (which is nearly finished, btw) ...

The wealthy condo owners are yet to come (although they may not show up at all on the east side of Foss Waterway, if we don't put in this bridge to benefit the wealthy developers first)...

And, I have a tough time with making an $80M+ *discretionary* investment (state or city) to save a $1M/year on *compulsory* city services. Am I the only one not getting the math on this line of thinking? If the TFD is losing that kind of dough because the MMB is no longer open, perhaps we need to take a critical look at the long-range planning that led to that predicament.

And of course, at the end of the day... fixed or broken, open or closed, painted or rusty... the bridge is still (and always will be) fugly.

by Twisty on 2/28/2008 @ 6:08pm
Oh, one more thing...

...somebody, somewhere is planning to increase the local sales tax to pay for this. If you are going to promote this thing, you should at least be up front about that.

by Erik on 2/28/2008 @ 8:36pm
...somebody, somewhere is planning to increase the local sales tax to pay for this. If you are going to promote this thing, you should at least be up front about that

Twisty, I understand your personal opinion on the look of the bridge, but I did want to clarify the sales tax issue which was discussed on other blogs.

The current proposal is to allow Tacoma to use part of sales tax it currently sends to the state to pay for the bridge repairs. There is no proposal to increase the sales tax rate in Tacoma. Our rate here would stay the same.

by Twisty on 2/28/2008 @ 11:21pm
"The current proposal is to allow Tacoma to use part of sales tax it currently sends to the state to pay for the bridge repairs."

Ah, I see. That detail makes a BIG improvement over what I had previously understood. I happen to dislike sales tax equalization, so the idea of keeping local revenues to spend on ourselves goes a long ways towards bringing me around.

OK, then. I'll keep an open mind. But I still want gargoyles.

by KevinFreitas on 2/29/2008 @ 6:54am
But I still want gargoyles.

Ooo, sweet! I think it would be cool to see the Murray Morgan made over steampunk style.