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Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge

An important commercial arterial, the Puyallup River Bridge – renamed in May 2019 to the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge in a collaborative effort between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and City of Tacoma - links Fife to Tacoma's industrial area and the Port of Tacoma.

Drone of Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge

After 85 years of nearly issue-free service, the Puyallup River Bridge structure began to show its age.

The new bridge, renamed in May 2019 to the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge and delivered via the design-build delivery method, provides a gateway entrance to the City of Tacoma. A striking architectural feature on the main span accents the gateway experience with multiple frames that span above the roadway.  When viewed from any perspective the arrangement of the frames appears to shift from a seemingly random configuration to a graceful parabolic transition.

When the design for a replacement cable stay bridge proved financially unviable in 2013, the City of Tacoma had less than one year to complete several steps to protect the federal grants acquired to replace the bridge. From writing the design-build Request for Qualification and Proposal with draft documents under development by the Washington State Department of Transportation (to be used for the first time by a local jurisdiction under FHWA rules) to updating the National Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Document, there was no shortage of work to be done.

Atkinson Construction with design partner Jacobs was selected as the best value design-build proposer with  design of a 9-span continuous precast concrete girder bridge replacing F16 A&B and all of the F22 span. The design, which doubles the lane capability of the former bridge thereby enabling trucks to leave Port of Tacoma through the crossing, was challenged by the span length over the railroad mainlines and the clearance requirements of the existing and future track alignments. To stay under budget, the team devised a concrete girder design to span the 212-feet over six tracks and provide spans over Ramp B and access roadways. The design of the new structure was complicated spatially as it had to tie into the existing structure over the river and the existing roadway intersection and provide vertical and horizontal clearance to three future railroad spur lines in addition to the six mainline tracks. The pier alignment had to accommodate the varying alignments of the tracks and roadways below, resulting in skews that varied from zero to 45 degrees for the nine bridge piers.

Additional challenges faced and overcame included working within limited right-of-way adjacent to environmentally sensitive and tribal properties. The site is also subject to potentially large seismic forces and the soil conditions near the river required deep drilled shafts to support the bridge structure.

The new bridge provides a gateway entrance to the City of Tacoma with a striking architectural feature on the main span that accents the gateway experience with multiple frames that span above the roadway. This gateway framework can be replicated on future spans and the City felt tied well to the industrial area. In addition, iconic tribal symbols were placed at the ends of each pier cap and can be viewed from below the bridge.



span continuous precast concrete girder bridge


lifting of the truss over six tracks with over 42 train movements a day

Jacobs is proud to be part of this important design-build project for the City of Tacoma. The entire team comprised of the City, Jacobs and Atkinson was collaborative and positive, and it was a true pleasure to be a part of this exciting project. It shows what can be accomplished when we all work together towards a common goal.

Heather Weeks
Jacobs Civil Engineer and Project Manager

Confronting complexities

Drone of Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge 2
Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge

Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge complexities included:

  • Matching geometry of the remaining sections of the bridge over active rail lines with clearance requirements for six active tracks and three additional potential rail line clearances.
  • Working adjacent to an active business.
  • Two-phased Federal right of way certification process required to allow the project to start construction and utilize grant funding.
  • Working under active power lines.  These lines are the backup for the Fife Industrial area and downtown Tacoma.  These lines could only be de-energized for short periods of time and only at certain times of the year.
  • The lifting of the truss over six tracks with over 42 train movement a day, within a short work window provided by the railroads.  The rail lines were only able to provide two work windows within which the lift had to be successful or the project would have been delayed until a new work window could be provided.

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