11th Street Bridge Will Close to Traffic

The East 11th Street Bridge is being closed to traffic because it has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer safe. The City of Tacoma made the announcement today.

Deterioration to joints, beams and trusses has progressed slowly but steadily and conditions, in the interest of public safety, now warrant a precautionary closure. 

This is not the recently reopened Murray Morgan Bridge, which connects 11th Street running through downtown Tacoma to the other side of the Foss. This 1911 bridge is further east, crossing the Puyallup River. It will be closed to all uses sometime this summer. This follows a 2005 decision to reroute all traffic weighing more than 10 tons.

No word on when (or if) the bridge will be restored to carry traffic again. With a price tag of $40 million to rebuild or $10 million for demolition alone, it certainly doesn't seem likely the funds will be found any time soon for such a large project. 

The bridge isn't closed yet, and a firm closure date hasn't been set either, but it seems wise to plan not to include the bridge in your travel plans anytime soon.

Read the full press release here.

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Portland is working on a street fee to fund maintenance work on roads and bridges.  They’re passing it without a public vote, which is probably what will need to happen in Tacoma considering a street levy hasn’t been passes since the 1960’s here.
Basically, they’re charging businesses and residents a fee for how much road they’re using.  That is, if you live in a condo in downtown, you share a portion of street with several other people and therefore pay very little fees.  If you’re way out in the suburbs, you pay much more because you require more street.  The mall?  Big fee for freeway exits, roads, surface level parking, etc.  Businesses in business districts with stores built right up to the curb?  Little street used, little fee.  Get it?  The city can practically dictate density with this tool.  Make it high enough for businesses with seas of parking lots, and eliminate the B&O while you’re at it.  Tie these fees to what is needed for businesses and density needs… already set up zoning guidelines are usually good start to structure fees around.  Portland has it figured out.  Steal their fee structure.  But, something needs to be done with Tacoma’s infrastructure as bridge closures and the paltry infrastructure should be a point of embarrassment for residents, businesses, and the city itself.

July 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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“They’re passing it without a public vote, which is probably what will need to happen in Tacoma”

Obviously you think the City of Tacoma has a revenue problem, but I would contend that what the City of Tacoma suffers from is irresponsible spending.
Here in Tacoma the “they” you are talking about have frittered away the copious revenues that the City takes in on discretionary projects of every imaginable description and have done so without a vote of the public.  Take a look at any recent poll of resident satisfaction and it is obvious that residents are not satisfied with how “they” have been programming and budgeting existing revenues. 

Tacoma is among the highest taxed jurisdictions in a what is a high tax State.  Look it up both on a per capita basis as well as total revenues.  What would give anybody the notion that “they” would responsibly budget an even larger pot of money totally escapes me.  In fact, if we look back at how the City planned to program and budget “Prop 1” revenues should that measure have passed it is obvious that the residents don’t have any confidence left in the City of Tacoma to spend wisely.  And why should they? 

July 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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You sound like my Mother.  She visits me every so often and basically tries to guilt me into giving her money to live on.  She talks as if she knows my income and budget.  She tells me that I can afford different things that aren’t on my radar for spending.  She really doesn’t know anything about my finances but she certainly seems ok with dictating what and where my money should go.  She ends up looking like a foolish know-it-all. 

What I’m saying is; don’t be a Mother.

July 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Your statement isn’t even worthy of a response.  What I will say though is that our City’s behavior on fiscal matters is infantile at best and if that is how you handle your personal finances then I can understand your mother’s concern.

July 1, 2014 at 8:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I have studied the City of Tacoma Six-year Transportation Improvement Plan (6-year TIP) foe each of the last half dozen iterations and have discussed it on a line item by line item basis.  Something I would guess that you have not even attempted to do.  So I will consider your little rant in that context and would suggest that others o likewise.

July 1, 2014 at 8:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There was a street utility law on the books that allowed cities to do this, but the Supreme Court overturned the law finding that it essentially was a property tax and that it didn’t conform with what that usually entails.

The State Legislature needs to loosen the reigns on cities in Washington.  Cities only have the authority that is explicitly granted to them by the State.

July 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There were constraints on how State Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax revenues old be used, but certain jurisdictions went to the legislature to have the constraints considerably loosened.  Would anybody like to guess which south sound city whose name starts with a T and ennds with an a was the ring leader of this effort?  I’ll give you a hint: it is the same City whose mayor used those funds to rebuild the alley brained his personal residence.  Used those funds to fund Stadium Banners, Business District Beautification and Spanish Steps and literally dozens of other projects that benefit primarily friends ( campaign contributors), family and long time business associates of elected and appointed city officials.

July 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Doug Andreassen

The closure of this bridge is more attempts by the City of Tacoma to further close the 11th street corridor. It started with the Hylebos bridge being closed for months if not years, then being rebuilt at a incredible fee to tax payers, and it continues to be a bridge to no where. Same story with Murray Morgan bridge and now this one. How many millions have been spent on this corridor? We must be up to $70 million by now and still climbing..what do we have to show for it? Two bridges now that go no where and still our citizens suffer from the break down of services within our city, from police services to fixing the pot holes in our streets. Wake up Tacoma !! If we are going to spend this amount of money, lets provide real services to our citizens and not projects that protect no one.

July 2, 2014 at 10:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Spot on Doug,

This Eleventh Street nonsense should be funded through an LID that the interested property owners vote to attach to their own real estate.  It would be one thing if Tacoma were not faced with a very real threat of bankruptcy if all available revenues are not programmed and budgeted toward preservation of our infrastructure and restoration of our failed infrastructure until we are once again in control.  At this point pavement (as well as utilities that are buried under that pavement) is deteriorating at a faster rate than maintenance and preservation efforts can keep up.  I don’t want to hear anything about voters being responsible either, I sat through a whole series of dog and pony shows in which the most important fact that was extracted from Tacoma officials was that Prop 1 dollars would not be LEGALLY constrained and could be used to fund everything and anything even tangentially related to transportation with safety in the title.

The political class here in Tacoma is 100% responsible for this city being in the predicament it is in and what is more it is CURRENT office holders and appointed officials who are as much to blame as are former City leaders.  At this juncture Tacoma has forfeit the luxury of being able to have unlimited flexibility in its program and budgeting of available revenues. 

July 3, 2014 at 9:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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