The community is invited to an Aug. 2 open house to learn about potential options to rehabilitate or replace the Fox Island Bridge.
The Preliminary Type, Size and Location Study began in winter 2015. Pierce County and HDR Engineering, the consultant hired to lead the study on the county’s behalf, looked at the location and alignment of the bridge, the cost to rehabilitate or replace the bridge, potential bridge types if the bridge is replaced, and the work needed to rehabilitate the bridge.
“This study was the first step in determining our options for the future of the bridge,” said Brian D. Stacy, P.E., Pierce County Public Works county engineer. “We now want feedback from the community on how they use the bridge, the design and location they prefer, and their preference on whether to replace or rehabilitate the bridge.”
The open house will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Nichols Community Center, 690 9th Ave. on Fox Island. The public can visit informational displays about the study from 7-7:45 p.m. County staff and the consultant for the study will then make a presentation and host a Question and Answer session.
Pierce County will next determine whether to rehabilitate or replace the bridge and how to fund the work. A timeline and process for this determination has not been set.
If the county decides to replace the bridge, it will conduct a full Type, Size and Location Study that will determine what type of bridge will be used, what size it should be, and how and where it will be aligned across the water. A Type, Size and Location Study is not needed if the county decides to rehabilitate the bridge.
About the bridge
The bridge was built in 1954, and is constructed of cast-in-place concrete and steel beams. At 1,950 feet, it is the longest bridge maintained by Pierce County.
The aging bridge is narrow and not up to current design standards. Although the sufficiency rating of the bridge is low at 7.33, the bridge is considered structurally safe. The sufficiency rating is used to determine eligibility and priority for Federal Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program funds. The rating is calculated using factors such as structural adequacy and safety, serviceability and functional obsolescence, and essentiality for public use.
“This is a substantial bridge that serves a population with no other roadway access,” said Stacy. “We need to begin these discussions now, as the process to rehabilitate or replace a bridge is lengthy due to the design process, the work to identify funds, and environmental reviews.”
The bridge has undergone routine maintenance over the years, along with more significant work such as a seismic retrofit in 2003 and bearing repairs in 2013. The average daily traffic for the bridge was 6,840 in 2014.
Additional information about the Fox Island Bridge is available at www.piercecountywa.org/foxislandbridge.
Kraig Shaner, Public Works bridge engineering supervisor
Anne Radford, Public Works public information officer