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Puget Sound Transportation Projects

Murray Morgan Bridge - Tacoma, WA

Photo of the Murray Morgan bridge

Current Status: Bridge Will Be Refurbished

The Murray Morgan/South 9th Street lift bridge was built in 1913 to connect downtown to the tideflats. It was rebuilt in 1957 and used to route Washington Highway 509 through the tideflats.

Known by many names throughout its life; the City Waterway bridge, the 11th Street Bridge, Highway 509 bridge and finally the Murray Morgan, the bridge was bypassed in the late 1990's when Washington State Route 509 was routed around the edge of the tideflats.

Unfortunately, the bridge has reached the end of its life. Years of use and neglect have severely limited its capacity. Routing traffic away from the bridge has diminished its importance. The state and WSDOT want to remove the bridge as the cost to rebuild it is very high.

However, there are two big reasons to keep the bridge around. All of Tacoma, and especially the Foss Waterway spanned by the bridge, have been undergoing a renaissance. Therefore, the bridge is rapidly becoming an important link between downtown and the tideflats. Secondly, the bridge has become an icon for Tacoma, serving as both a reminder of its industrial past and as a work of art in its self.

A grassroots effort was begun to save the bridge. They have had great success: the bridge was originally scheduled to be torn down in 2006 and now will be rehabilitated and reopened..

The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 2007 after the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. It was unclear for awhile whether or not the bridge would be replaced or rehabilitated.

Fortunately, the political will and funding were found to rehabilitate the bridge. The lift cables were replaced in February 2010, and work will begin soon to repair the rest of the bridge, with an reopening in 2012.

Thoughts: Back to Top

Like so many things in life, the bridge was always just there. Going to visit my mom's friend in Northeast Tacoma we used it when 509 ran across it. There also used to be a road that ran between Dock Street and downtown that ran up the towers of the bridge. The ramps are mostly still there and are used for pedestrian access. I remember using these ramps when we parked along Dock Street to see the Daffodil Parade downtown many years ago.

In recent years, the Foss Waterway has been redeveloped and the bridge has become a major part of it. People have seen the beauty in what was once just a huge unsightly industrial bridge. I had never seen the bridge open until the Tall Ships Festivals of 2005 and 2008. It was an amazing site to see. I am pleased the funding and will was found to repair and reopen the bridge.

Future: Back to Top

  • Refurbishment of the bridge; reopening to traffic by 2012.

Links: Back to Top

Images: © Ben Brooks