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Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge

Bridge Opened to Traffic on September 14, 2019 

The Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge (formerly the Puyallup River Bridge) opened September 14, 2019.  The bridge has a weight restriction of 20 tons, double that of the pre-closure restriction, meaning that empty trucks to and from the Port of Tacoma may now use the bridge.


Puyallup River Bridge Aerial View















Puyallup River Bridge Rendering


About the Bridge

On May 21, 2019 Tacoma City Council passed Resolution No. 40333 a resolution renaming the Puyallup River Bridge to the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge.  Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge Dedication was held on August 9, 2019. The bridge was recently renamed in a collaborative effort between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and City of Tacoma.


The Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge (formerly the Puyallup River Bridge) links Tacoma to the city of Fife to its east, was opened in 1927. It was opened as one of Washington's last segments of the famous Pacific Highway, also known as State Route 1 and in later years, Highway 99. The bridge is made up of seven steel-truss spans linked by reinforced concrete sections. It was financed in approximately equal measure by the federal and state governments, took barely more than a year to build, and was finished early and within budget. The bridge lost much of its daily traffic load when the first Washington segment of Interstate 5 opened in Tacoma in December 1960, but it has remained an important commercial arterial, linking Fife to Tacoma's industrial area and the facilities of the Port of Tacoma. In 2013, after more than 85 years of nearly trouble-free service, age and the elements were catching up with the Puyallup Avenue Bridge, and the City of Tacoma was well along with plans to replace 950 feet of the span on the Tacoma side of the river with a cable stay bridge.


Funding for this work was primarily split between two Federal grants, Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee (BRAC) and Surface Transportation Program (STP), to replace two sections of the bridge F16A and F16B along with a partial replacement of section F22.  No work is anticipated on the three sections spanning the river and running east. Augmenting the Federal funding were two State grants from the State Department of Commerce and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board to replace these bridge sections.

Specifically, the project will replace the bridge sections required to span the BNSF and Union Pacific Main Lines through Tacoma.  The project will have a right of way component and design review by both railroads and the State. The Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge (formerly the Puyallup River Bridge)is on an arterial street consisting of four travel lanes with three currently crossing over the bridge. Construction of the bridge will impact traffic patterns in the area forcing traffic onto I-5 and Lincoln Avenue Bridge.

Unfortunately, the design work for a cable stay bridge proved financially unviable in 2013 and required rethinking of the project in order to protect the federal grants acquired to replace the bridge.  In February 2016 an Alternative Assessment Workshop was completed with WSDOT and other agencies and professionals to determine if the project should move forward.  The Workshop determined that the project was of value to the area and the bridge should be replaced.  Following the workshop, the design-build procurement process was found to be the only way to secure the Federal funding prior to the December 2016 obligation deadline.


The design-build selection process started in November 2016 when the City opened the RFQ and scored the ten statements of qualification received. Then in January 2017, the City issued the RFP to the three finalists selected. The design-build teams submitted their preliminary designs for scoring in April 2017.  The submittals received represented three different steel and concrete girder bridge designs.  On April 18, 2017, the City opened the proposals received.  Atkinson Construction was found to be the best value proposer with a design of a continuous span precast concrete girder bridge replacing F16 A&B and all of the F22 span.


Utility relocation work began March 2018 to shift existing utilities to accommodate the new bridge’s footprint.  Right of way acquisition was phased to allow work to begin on property already acquired for the project.  At the same time, the City was able to negotiate final right of way needs with the railroads.

Demolition work started on May 21, 2018 east of the Burlington Northern mainline.  Negotiations and final certification of the railroad right way needs extending into fall 2018.  While this delayed the start of the demolition work over the tracks and to the west, construction of the new structure east of the railroad continued.

The City worked closely with both the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads to schedule removal of the old steel truss on the busy rail corridor.  The truss was removed in early November 2018 currently the project is drilling shafts on the eastside of the rail lines. Girder placement over the railroad tracks is planned for March 2019 pending railroad approvals and work windows.  

Truss Removal Video



 Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee - BRAC  $15,628,538
 Federal Funding - FHWA (STP)  $12,200,000
 Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board  $5,000,000
 Dept. of Commerce  $6,950,000
 Port of Tacoma  $500,000
 City of Tacoma  $1,607,505




Phase Estimated Start Date Estimated End Date
RFQ for DB Teams September 2016 November 2016
RFP for DB Teams November 2016 June 2017
Design/Construction June 2017 December 2018
Estimated Construction April 2018 August 2019
Opened September 2019