Bridges and Structures

Murray Morgan Bridge Rehabilitation Owner’s Engineer

Location: Tacoma, Washington

The Murray Morgan Bridge is a historic structure that is approximately 2,000 feet long, with a vertical lift span. The bridge crosses the Thea Foss Waterway over the Puyallup River as well as five BNSF and Union Pacific (UP) rail lines. Structural deficiencies in the bridge resulted in the City of Tacoma closing it to traffic until the current $47 million rehabilitation is completed. Complicating the rehabilitation project, the Thea Foss Waterway is under an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decree for cleanup of hazardous materials, and avoiding disturbance to the cap was a major objective. Also, the waterway is habitat for endangered fish, and the bridge was a designated historic structure and protected by federal laws.

DEA is working as the city’s owner’s representative for this project. The DEA team provided a feasibility study for bridge rehabilitation and replacement during an earlier phase of the project, and conducted a bridge inspection, a preliminary structural analysis, and load rating. Further, DEA provided priority-level recommendations and preliminary cost estimates, prepared rehabilitation schemes, and conducted materials testing.

DEA also prepared environmental documents required before federal funds could be made available and a Request for Proposal (RFP) released, including NEPA/SEPA documentation. The NEPA schedule depended on DEA’s ability to obtain a Section 106 and Section 7 concurrence in record time. Section 106 concurrence was provided upon preparation of a Memorandum of Agreement to mitigate adverse effects to the historic bridge, including review and input by the impacted Native American tribes, the Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer, and the State Historic Preservation Officer. DEA used the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Web tool provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to facilitate review of the biological assessment and obtained Section 7 concurrence in less than three months. DEA also obtained EPA approval for work within the waterway, secured a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, and prepared a Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation of the bridge. The FHWA issued a Documented CE within six months. DEA also assisted the city in the procurement process, assisting in the development of the design-build RFP and preparing the technical specifications. DEA continues to serve as the city owner’s representative for many of the major components of the project and also is providing surveying, value engineering, design review, and construction support services.

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