The state is looking to donate the historical structure to a new governmental or private owner willing to preserve it.
The old Puyallup River Bridge is hard to miss.
For the past two years, it’s been sitting unused in storage at the end of Highway 167 in Puyallup — all 371 feet of it.
Why? In an effort to find it a new home — and for historic preservation.
“Its value is to the nation and to the larger bridge enthusiast community who would want to see this bridge preserved,” said Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) historian Craig Holstine.
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Now, WSDOT is seeking a new home for the bridge, which is up for donation to a governmental or private entity. The new owner would be responsible for “maintaining the bridge and the features that give it its historic significance and continued eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, and assume all future legal and financial responsibility for the bridge,” according to WSDOT.
Designed by Maury M. Caldwell in 1925, the bridge served Puyallup for 91 years. When the bridge was removed in 2015 to make room for more traffic, it was designated as a historic bridge due to its structure.
“Its type is very rare,” Holstine said. “It’s a modification of the Turner Truss. Very few of them were ever built that I know of.”
“Because of that, it couldn’t be scrapped immediately,” said Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins.
Instead, WSDOT sought to sell it.
“First we offered it to King and Pierce counties,” said WSDOT spokeswoman Shari King. “When they declined to take the bridge, we developed a marketing plan.”
Possible parties that could be interested in the bridge are neighboring counties, cities, government agencies or even other states.
“If a new owner is found, the owner has to sign an agreement to preserve the bridge and its features,” Holstine said.
WSDOT will provide an estimated $1 million to the new owner to assist with disassembling and moving the bridge.
Puyallup officials said that while the city isn’t interested in the bridge, they hope someone takes WSDOT up on its offer.
“As much as the city appreciates this bridge for its beauty and for how well it served our community for 90 years, at this time we don’t have a specific need for which it could be put to another good use,” said Brenda Fritsvold, Puyallup’s public-affairs officer.
If a new owner isn’t found by June 2019, WSDOT will dispose of the bridge. For now, the hunt is still on for an owner willing to repurpose it.
For more information, visit wsdot.wa.gov.