TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Nov. 20, 2009 at 11:35am

Murray Morgan Bridge Update

Anyone following the ups and downs of saving the Murray Morgan Bridge would be interested to know Tacoma is inching closer toward taking ownership (again) of the 96-year-old structure that spans Thea Foss Waterway and connects downtown Tacoma to the tide flats.

The State took ownership of the bridge in the 1990s while it constructed State Route 509 from Interstate 705 to Milwaukee Avenue. According to an earlier agreement, the State agreed to return the bridge back to the City once SR 509 was completed. After years of deferred maintenance and neglect, the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic Oct. 23, 2007, due to safety concerns raised by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) inspectors. In 2008, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation included the bridge on its annual list of Most Endangered Properties. It was also added to Historic Tacoma's 'Watch List.'

During yesterday's Tacoma City Council environment and public works committee meeting, a turn-back agreement between Washington State and City of Tacoma garnered much interest. I wrote an article about the agreement (which needs to be reached by January 2010) and yesterday's meeting for today's edition of the Tacoma Daily Index.

Click here to read the article.

comments [18]  |  posted under Downtown, Murray Morgan, Tacoma


by NineInchNachos on 11/20/2009 @ 12:14pm
hold the phone... if the city takes control couldn't Eric Anderson destroy it over the objections of the city council if he felt it was a "danger" by his developer puppet masters?

by jenyum on 11/20/2009 @ 12:25pm
I think it's the perfect spot for an elevated wildlife corridor. It's already got a very nice layer of moss and lichen.


I dunno, I want to see the bridge saved but I lack faith that the city will find the money to actually do anything with it. At least for now Tacoma can say, "who, me?"

by L.S.Erhardt on 11/20/2009 @ 12:32pm
Nah, Eric Anderson would actually support spending some $$$ on it.

First, they'd retrofit that lower decking/ramp part to handle the weight of our modern Hummers and stuff.

Then they'd work on the superstructure and paint the bridge a nice beige color.

Then they'd permanently weld the deck in the closed position.

Then they'd repave the whole thing with some nice PG 64-22 asphalt.

Finally they'd stripe in the white lines and put up the new sign and pay station on 11th & A:
Murray Morgan Memorial Parking Lot

$1.25 for 1-3 hours, $2.00 for 3-8 hours, $4.00 all day

Think of all the cars you could fit on this thing!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/20/2009 @ 3:02pm
I like your idea, TO'T, but I'd rather have the Morgan turned into a park for Airstream trailers. That would draw in the visitors.

by Non Sequitur on 11/20/2009 @ 3:24pm
tear it down and build condos.
We need MORE housing in downtown, we need MORE condos.

by Altered Chords on 11/20/2009 @ 4:03pm
Let's turn it into a bridge that I can drive over like the good old days when it only took 3 minutes to get to my appointments in the tideflats.

by morgan on 11/20/2009 @ 8:00pm
Thanks for covering this Todd! I hope the city gets some spine and tells the State to give it back - and fix it!

by panachronic on 11/21/2009 @ 9:49am
Maybe the city could find the money to fix it if they thought they would be able to charge people for parking on it.

by Jesse on 11/21/2009 @ 10:03am
If the city gains ownership of this, wouldn't they have to come up with much more money to rehab it? Where does that come from ultimately? If I were Mayor... er, City Manager and had $80 million in hand and could decide what to spend it on, I'd spend it matching the $80 mil from Sound Transit first so I got $160 in total for streetcar. Granted some (ok, a lot) of the costs are looking like they'd be covered, I'd wait if I were the city to make sure I had about 80% of the costs definately covered before I retook ownership of this bridge. Basically, I'd make sure the state was going to pull through on thier promise of helping Tacoma find funding for the remainder of the rehab costs.

by fredo on 11/21/2009 @ 10:23am
This might be a good time to update our City of Tacoma insolvency checklist:

1.City is broke. Check
2.Defined benefit pension plan. Check
3.Lavish health care plan. Check
4.Full benefits for council members. Check
5.Excise tax receipts falling. Check
6.Foreclosures increasing. Check
7.Record unemployment levels. Check
8.Crumbling infrastructure. Check
9.Unfriendly B&O tax in place. Check
10.New mayor with labor friendly agenda. Check
11.Handouts to McMiniman and Rainier millionaires. Check
12.Expensive art installations. Check
13.Expensive port expansion plan scuttled. Check
14.Ambitious transit plan in development. Check
15.Belief that State will bail us out. Check

I could go on but don't want to use any more of Kevin's server memory.

by Mofo from the Hood on 11/22/2009 @ 10:36pm
Yeah well if I was Mayor, I'd send a crew with cutting torches down to the bridge and cut it free from its pilings and then truck it over to 25th & Pacific and shimmy it into place so that the train to Lakewood can go into service this week.

by Nick on 11/23/2009 @ 9:05am

Hahaha, now THAT's what I'm talking about! S'cuse me while I wipe the milk from my nose... :-)

by Nick on 11/23/2009 @ 9:07am
But yeah, how about treating this like any real estate purchase and direct the previous owner to bring the property up to code before we consider buying it?

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 11/25/2009 @ 3:20pm
Update: Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote on the turn-back agreement Dec. 1

by Jesse on 11/25/2009 @ 5:36pm
Ate at Hal of a Sub today and talked to the owner there. She said the bridge has to be restored because there's a federal agency dictating that either the bridge be restored or a fire station be built in the tideflats. The bridge must be there and operable in case of a fire in the flats. The alternative is the firestation in the tideflats at a cost of who knows what, and keeping it manned forever. It's just a rumor from Hal's owner but it makes total sense. Anyone else heard anything about this? I do know the city just released a budget with some money earmarked for the bridge so...
If the fire thing is true, the bridge cannot not be restored. It's saved.

by morgan on 11/25/2009 @ 9:31pm
I heard that the city is very close to taking ownership back from the state - along with it will come some state money and once it is back in our hands, some Federal money. Baarsma is pushing hard to make this happen ASAP, but the two council members whose terms expire this month are holding out. Not sure why.

Now would be a good time to contact council members in support of taking back the bridge - and re-opening it. I'm not sure when the final vote is on it.

by Jesse on 11/26/2009 @ 9:43am
I wonder if the city would get a bump in monies from the feds if this project included mass transit. Sometimes that hapens. A cable car up 11th from the tideflats would be awesome... especially with a MLK streetcar on the top of the hill. Port workers would be clammoring to live in... Hilltop??? Hmm.

by morgan on 12/1/2009 @ 1:22pm
The Tacoma City Council is expected to vote tonight on the turn-back agreement to TAKE THE BRIDGE BACK FROM THE STATE. The last I heard, Talbert and Ladenberg were holding out their support. We need to let the council know WE WANT THE BRIDGE BACK! Contact them here:


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