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SR 162 - Puyallup River Bridge - History

The McMillin Bridge in Pierce County might seem like an odd-shaped structutre to those who drive SR 162 and cross the Puyallup River on occasion. It is at that.  

This bridge is truly unique. It is the only one of its type known in the world.

The McMillin Bridge was built in 1934, replacing a steel span that had been washed out by the flooding river the year before. Due to the economic conditions of the time, a concrete design was chosen over steel.

This design, which is unusual because it combines concrete with the half-through truss, also reduced overall maintenance costs. It also put the McMillin Bridge on the map in more ways than one.

The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is in the Library of Congress' Historic American Engineering Record.

The main span of the half-through truss bridge is 170 feet long, making it the longest beam span or concrete truss in the United States when it was constructed.

The 75-year-old bridge has reached the end of its useful lifespan and a new, wider bridge is being designed downstream to accommodate present and future traffic loads on SR 162.

Because the McMillin Bridge is included in the National Register, WSDOT will consult with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) regarding the future of the bridge. 

Options being reviewed include rerouting the nearby Foothills Trail onto the McMillin Bridge, adding another segment to the Foothills Trail that utilizes the McMillin Bridge, leaving the bridge in place as a historical monument for interpretive purposes, or removing it in its entirety.

Additionally, the public is being invited to comment on this project. Find out more...


Who conceived the idea of the McMillin Bridge?

Adding to the uniqueness of the SR 162 Puyallup River Bridge is the man who came up with the idea for its construction -- Homer M. Hadley.

Hadley was perhaps Washington's most innovative bridge engineer. A structural engineer for the Portland Cement Association, he is credited with the idea of building a floating concrete bridge across Lake Washington. (The newest floating bridge there bears his name.) He conceived the McMillin Bridge design in part to demonstrate the versatility of concrete. 

The W.H. Witt Company of Seattle prepared the construction documents that were executed by the general contractor Dolph Jones of Tacoma.
The project was supervised by Pierce County engineer W.E. Berry and his successor Forest R. Easterday.

How can I get more information about the project?

Contact:
Steve Fuchs, Project Manager
PO Box 47375
Olympia, WA 98504-7375
Phone: 360-570-6660
E-mail: FuchsS@wsdot.wa.gov