For more than 90 years, Murray Morgan Bridge connected downtown Tacoma with the Tideflats. Then the state closed the structure several years ago for safety. A concerted effort to raise money to pay for a $57 million renovation was celebrated during a ceremony on Feb. 15.
The drumline from Lincoln High School provided music and a cheerleader from the school sang the national anthem.
Kurtis Kingsolver, a city engineer and the interim director of the Public Works Department, served as master of ceremonies. “This has been a long time coming for a lot of people,” he observed.
Gov. Jay Inslee noted that completion of the project is another in a series of positive things happening in the City of Destiny. “This is a continuation of great things going on in this city. It marries the past with Tacoma’s future.”
Paula Hammond, secretary of Washington State Department of Transportation, recalled attending a Tacoma City Council meeting around the time the bridge was closed by her agency for safety reasons. She remembers bringing pieces of concrete that fell from the old structure. Noted civic leader Dawn Lucien invited Hammond to her apartment, where they discussed ideas to renovate the bridge. Hammond said the project is a testament to the efforts of leaders at the city, state and federal levels.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez mentioned President Barack Obama’s ideas to improve the economy by creating jobs in repairing roads and bridges. “You got ahead of the federal government on this one. Thank you for doing that.”
Bill Baarsma served as mayor when the bridge was closed. He discussed some local history, noting the governor was in Tacoma in 1913 for the opening of the bridge. He gave some credit to the project to the late Bob Evans, an architect who served on the council prior to Baarsma becoming mayor. Evans was among those who advocated for a renovation of the bridge over tearing it down and possibly building a new one.
“Today, history is made again thanks to many citizens who cared about preserving our history in the City of Destiny.”
“Thank you to all who participated in making this happen,” said State Representative Jake Fey.
Mayor Marilyn Strickland noted the city has invested money in renovating the waterfront. “We take pride in the fact that we are an international waterfront city.”
Originally called 11th Street Bridge, the name was changed in 1997 to recognize the late historian and author Murray Morgan. His daughter Lane Morgan was on hand for the ceremony.