Tacoma’s historic Murray Morgan Bridge is scheduled to reopen February 1st, a month later than planned but within the broad timeline for completion, city officials said.
The bridge was closed in 2007 after being determined to be one of the most dangerous bridges in the country. A $57 million restoration was paid for by a combination of state and federal funds. A second phase has not been funded, but would add $15 million to the price tag, according to project manager Tom Rutherford.
“We’ll still have about another month to 45 days of work to go after February 1st,” Rutherford explained, “But for the most part, it will be ready to go.”
First opened in 1913, the Murray Morgan Bridge fell into disrepair by the early 2000’s. City officials blamed the state for not keeping up the structure. Washington Department of Transportation officials believed the bridge should be torn down, while former Pierce County executive John Ladenburg called it a waste of money.
“Millions that could’ve been spent elsewhere,” Ladenburg said Saturday, “It won’t solve any traffic problems. Most people won’t know it’s open.”
Those who worked hard to save the bridge from demolition maintain the Murray Morgan will open up parts of the port and waterfront to development.
“It’s on the city seal,” said Michael Sullivan of Save Our Bridge, “It’s one of those iconic steps in the city’s development.”
Supporters also point out the bridge will cut down emergency response times.
While the bridge is scheduled to open to traffic February 1st, a formal grand opening featuring fireworks is planned for February 14th.