The Milroy Bridge, trusses of steel from a different era

OPINION By Marianne Lincoln

The George Milroy Bridge was constructed in 1931 across the Puyallup River between Tacoma and Puyallup. A plaque on the bridge tells a few details of its history. Built by the Kart Construction Company, the steel truss bridge has served the county for 82 years. Though small for a bridge in these days, it was a magnificent structure for its time. The bridge is regularly inspected by the Washington Department of Transportation and Pierce County Public Works. Amazingly, it always seems to come up with a good report of its strength and longevity.

In January, I took a few photographs of the bridge and the gallery is below. You can click on a photo to see them larger on the screen. You will notice that many vehicles have come too close to its steel girders.

Solid or not, this bridge is far too narrow for today’s traffic volumes. Stopping on it travelling south is seriously not for the faint of heart. There are long backups in several directions much of the day at this crossing.

As a pedestrian, I had to wait a log time to cross the several walk signals and past heavy traffic to get onto the bridge. It is a five-way intersection with a long light for River Road. Drivers would smile in amusement as if they understood standing on the bridge as a pedestrian was not something they wanted to do. Seeing me taking photos was an even greater curiosity to them. The crosswalk on River Road had serious pavement damage and several trucks that were too tall, kissed the top of the arch above, leaving some twisted metal.

It is time for WSDOT and the County to create some jobs replacing this structure. It is lovely, and would make a great pedestrian walkway, but it doesn’t adequately serve the community anymore as a roadway. Placing a new structure a little farther east so it can directly connect to 70th avenue and redirect the 5-way intersection would be a magnificent change. This is my opinion, not a plan that I am aware of at this time.

In addition, it could be a better photo opportunity. The view of the river and valley at this location is lovely, but the vegetation along the river is rather scrappy. Some native flowering pear trees, currant and hazelnut set along the way would make it a perfect photo setting, although there would need to be a place to actually pull over to take the shot.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Finally – the News Tribune catches on that there are stories needed about this and other bridges…

  2. News Trubune story- engineer says the height isn’t a problem? Look at the photo of the BIG dent int he overhead!
    “The Milroy Bridge, jointly owned by Pierce County and the city of Fife, is another highly traveled, low-rated structure in the Puyallup Valley. While in better shape than the Puyallup River bridge, it has a sufficiency rating of just 37.75.

    It’s currently being studied for possible replacement as part of the Canyon Road northerly extension, said county bridge engineering supervisor Kraig Shaner.

    Previous estimates pegged the replacement cost at $15 million to $20 million. The county is working on updated estimates.

    Jerry Bryant, a field engineering manager with the county, said in an earlier interview with The News Tribune that the Milroy Bridge won’t be replaced for more than six years due to a lack of funding. Eventually, the old bridge will be decommissioned and a new span erected upstream, Shaner said.

    The structure carries an average of about 10,400 vehicles daily.

    The narrow two-lane span is the only county-owned steel-truss bridge. There is no weight limit, but it has a height limit of 14 feet, 6 inches.

    Bennett said she uses the bridge to get to work in Federal Way and often watches large trucks — some that take up the entire width of the structure — attempt to cross it.

    “I’m just really concerned about the weight limits,” she said. “It’s too old not to have weight limits.”

    Fife already restricts large trucks from accessing the Milroy Bridge on the North Levee Road side. The county is also working to address oversized vehicles, Shaner said.

    “We’ve started looking at what we can do from a regulatory standpoint to either restrict lengths or something of that nature,” he said. “The height loads haven’t been an issue on that bridge.”

    Read more here:

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