By a unanimous vote Tuesday, members of the Pierce County Council implemented new restrictions on vehicle traffic over the Milroy Bridge connecting the community of Waller to the City of Fife via 66th Ave. Ordinance 2014-22 prevents vehicles towing trailers longer than 28 feet – essentially all semi-trucks – from crossing the bridge and directs that signs be placed notifying drivers of the restriction.
“For me, safety is the number one concern,” said Councilwoman Joyce McDonald, who represents the 2nd Council District and sponsored the measure. “We knew this bridge was beginning to see a traffic volume it wasn‘t meant to handle and we had to take action before it became a hazard to our citizens.”
Pierce County jointly owns the Milroy Bridge with Fife, which voted last month to support this traffic restriction.
Built over the Puyallup River in 1931, the Milroy Bridge was never intended to handle large truck traffic. However, with the increase in population over the past half-century the bridge has become functionally obsolete. The Washington State Department of Transportation rates the bridge a 37 out of 100, meaning that while it's not dangerous, it also isn’t built to modern standards.
“Right now, the priority is to reduce the length of vehicles crossing the bridge so that travel lanes are not blocked. This has created safety hazards for all drivers,” said Brian Ziegler, Director of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities. “Although there are no immediate plans to replace the bridge, it is on our watch list and this new restriction could also extend the bridge’s useful life.”
Additionally, McDonald stressed the urgency with which the state needs to pass a transportation package that fully funds completion of State Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma. Doing so, McDonald said, could eliminate all truck traffic over the Milroy Bridge as well as other aging bridges across the Puyallup River.
The new restrictions will take effect after the ordinance is signed by the county executive.
Joyce McDonald, Pierce County Council District 2
Brian Ziegler, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities Director