Carbon River Bridge – thrill or frightening?

By Marianne Lincoln

Since January of this year, the Pierce Prairie Post has been writing stories about the bridges of Pierce County. In light of the Skagit County I5 bridge disaster, the News Tribune this week also published a story, “Pierce County has 28 bridges in need of work.” It has a map with locations. They also wrote another story, “New Puyallup River bridge at SR 167 expected in next few years; funding an issue with Milroy span.”

One-way bridge over the Carbon River gulch on SR 165 south of Carbonado
One-way bridge over the Carbon River gulch on SR 165 south of Carbonado

We wrote in the Post wrote about the Milroy bridge on April 12, 2013. This was an opinion piece with photos, including one of the overhead truss with a big dent in it. The little private bridge off Weiler Road at the foot of Muck Creek hill is another. This private bridge is not crossed by school buses due to liability and there is no other way out of the neighborhood if there are any issues with that bridge. If you live out there, why aren’t you writing massive numbers of letters to your county council? You really need a better bridge. Admittedly, you have a colorful and unique one.

Another place that is fun to visit is the Burnett, Wilkeson and Carbonado are on the way to the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier. The bridge is listed in the News Tribune story as “SR165 over Gulch No 1.” It is south of Carbonado about 2.8 miles. As you pass through a winding rock fall area, you see the Carbon River down in the gulch. Suddenly there is a sign saying, “One-way bridge.” Yes, you have to take turns crossing this one.

Carbon River in the gulch, that's a 35 MPH sign in the water for perspective
Carbon River in the gulch, that’s a 35 MPH sign in the water for perspective

According to the Trib. story, the bridge was built in 1957. It truly looks older. (Note it was 1921) It’s sufficiency rating is 58.5. Park your car on the west side and walk back if you are a thrill seeker. You will feel it move as cars cross. Be careful, there really isn’t space for pedestrians. Luckily, most cars go slowly, some to gawk, others out of concern.

We are blessed in the Pacific Northwest with lots of mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, gorges and landscapes to love. They are photogenic, beautiful and often treacherous. They are also expensive obstacles to cross. We require bridges and tunnels to make our transportation system operable. That is expensive, more so than most US states. Much of our infrastructure is aging and we have many people who need jobs. Let’s put them to work and let them add back to our tax base with their income. As in the 1950’s, we can boost our economy by building infrastructure. At that time they were building the interstate highway system, the big hydroelectric projects, and lots of bridges. Life was good. The opportunity is before us.

 

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