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Copper wire theft, damage to controls leave Murray Morgan Bridge unable to open

Post by Stephanie A. Clark on Dec. 15, 2010 at 11:08 am with 11 Comments »
December 15, 2010 11:42 am

Tacoma just sent out this release detailing damage that has disabled the Murray Morgan Bridge. Thieves broke into the mechanical room and stole all the wiring from a panel that is used to raise and lower the span.

Read the complete press release issued by the city:

Sometime between Nov. 22 and Dec. 8, copper wire thieves broke into the mechanical room on the Murray Morgan Bridge and stole all of the wiring in the power and control panel that is used to raise and lower the bridge.

As a result of this theft and extensive damage to the motors and controls used to move the bridge, the bridge currently cannot be raised to allow ships to pass underneath. City engineers have notified the United States Coast Guard, Martinac Shipbuilding and the Foss Waterway Development Authority, as well as local marine users, about the inability to open the bridge.

The bridge control equipment and motors are so badly damaged and so old that repair parts are no longer available, so the equipment will need to be replaced. The estimated replacement cost is between $250,000 and $300,000. City staff is investigating interim means to raise the bridge for marine traffic to pass underneath. The bridge is typically opened two or three times per month during the winter months and between 10 and 12 times per month during the peak summer boating season.

Planning for the rehabilitation of the Murray Morgan Bridge is under way, and the City just announced that it has selected PCL Construction Services, Inc. of Bellevue, Wash. to rehabilitate the bridge. Phase 1 of the repair, which will allow the historic bridge to re-open to vehicle traffic with one lane in each direction, is projected to be complete by the end of 2012.

Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. nonstopjoe says:

    Too bad thieves stopped at stealing copper. Had they also purloined the bridge, one more Tacoma eyesore would have been eliminated.

  2. Yes it’s historic. Yes it’s ugly. Yes it’s broken. It needs to be replaced. Not all historic sites can or should be saved, just because they played a significant role in the past.

  3. scottsch111 says:

    But fixing this bridge is cheaper than tearing it down and building a new one. When you get to save a historic structure and save money doing it, why wouldn’t you? Because its design isn’t to your taste?

  4. wabubba67 says:

    That is a beautiful bridge (or used to be). Would love to see different colored flood lights illuminate the span….it’s historically and archecturally significant.

  5. spencerspencer says:

    Hey, engineering geeks or wannabes. The bridge is design cool. It is fascinating how it all works to move such great weight with such small motors. It is quite a show to see how it works. I remember how great it was to drive 11th st. all the way across to Marine View Drive and see the activity on the tide flats and industries that our tax money all subsidizes. I wish we still could. it would raise people’s awareness of the value of this region of Tacoma that is pretty much a walled bastion that discourages discovery and hinders awareness.

  6. Really? Fixing this bridge is cheaper than building a new one? I think that total will only come after several more years and a very expensive study. Or two. Add up all the studies already done on this bridge, staff time paid out, and the years wasted, well, it’s cheaper to fix it? Really?

  7. I can’t believe all the people never heard of this huge waste of money before, where the heck you been?

    Here’s a recap: State builds new bridge and tries to turn old one back to city. City won’t take it. Since noone really uses old bridge State wants to tear it down. City holds State hostage; demanding millions of dollars to restore old eyesore. City finally gets its way. Now city taxpayers will pick up the tab, but at least not State taxpayer problem anymore. Ha Ha, jokes on you! Any questions?

  8. Kevindot1 says:

    Look at this beautiful bridge when it was brand new:

    To me, it is worth saving. Stupid coper wire thieves! Grrrr

  9. There are still thousands of jobs out there at the Port of Tacoma. Our business is located just at the foot of the bridge but our customers have to drive 2 miles out of their way to get there. It’s not just architecturally interesting, it’s economically important. With Pierce Transit cutting the last remaining bus line to the Port, it’ll also be the only way to get from downtown to the Port of Tacoma via transit.

  10. uratroll says:

    Anyone know what kind of sentence these thieves would get if caught? What ever it is, it’s not enough for the cost and destruction of property, public or private.

  11. siragwatkins says:

    That’s a lot of copper! I hope someone’s watching places where it can be sold (if it’s not already too late — though someone might actually have noticed who brought in that quantity).
    Apparently copper theft is or is becoming a big issue–a contractor we know has been paying people to spend night in houses he’s building because of that and other thefts. At least that’s a job created by thefts that are probably increasing because so many other jobs have been lost.

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