TACOMA, Wash. -- Semi trucks and school buses will soon be too heavy for a Tacoma bridge. A recent inspection of the Puyallup River bridge on Eells Street found that the bridge’s joints are damaged.
“The bridge was constructed in the late 1920s, so many many years can deteriorate a bridge over time,” said Tacoma Public Works Director Kurtis Kingsolver.
Kingsolver also said weather conditions and heavy use are likely factors in the damage.
Drivers in passenger vehicles will be able to use the bridge without issues, but within the next week signs will change restrictions from a maximum weight of 18 tons to 10 tons.
“There are about 400 vehicles a day that are buses, trucks and that type of nature that won’t be able to go through, but there are still about 14,000 people that will be able to get through the Puyallup River bridge,” said Kingsolver.
The change will essentially affect about six Tacoma School District bus routes and eliminate five bus stops for Pierce Transit. Semi trucks that used to be able to pass as long as they weren’t carrying a load won’t be able to get on the bridge altogether.
“It’s definitely going to add an extra 10 minutes to our days,” said Nathan Hathaway, a VCT truck driver who uses the bridge daily for work. “It’s going to add a lot of cost to our company especially when you have extra miles to go around it.”
The city will keep restrictions in place until the bridge can be replaced, which Kingsolver notes could take several years and cost $150 million. They city already has $40 million to replace two sections of the bridge, but it will take time to come up with the rest.