Puyallup River Bridge construction 'possibly' delayed; nearby businesses feel the pinch

TACOMA, Wash. — The City of Tacoma said the construction of the Puyallup River Bridge - that connects Fife to Tacoma - has “possibly” been delayed as an agreement is finalized with two railroad companies for some of the required work.

The city would not give an absolute “yes” or say how long the project could be delayed. Construction continues at this time.

The nearly 100-year-old bridge - which carries Highway 99 over the Puyallup River - closed in May with construction originally expected to end in February 2019. About 15,000 drivers crossed the bridge daily when it was open, according to the City of Tacoma.

The nearly $42 million project is funded through federal, state and local money, but there’s only enough funding to work on about a third of the bridge. New lanes, sidewalks and bike lanes will be added to the west side of the bridge.

The project manager said necessary documents are being signed “now” - the city is working with the railroads to complete the removal of the truss structure over the tracks.

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We spoke with the owner of Destination Harley-Davidson, whose business is nearby along Highway 99, and benefits from the Tacoma-Fife connection.

Owner Ed Wallace told KIRO 7 he started to feel the pinch from the May bridge closure in June. Retail sales (parts, clothing, etc.) are down 20%, according to Wallace, who said new bike sales are down about 20% as well.

Retail mail orders have increased, however, as in-store purchases decreased.

Wallace said retail and new bikes sales benefit from impulse buyers. They’re seeing fewer impulse buyers because of the bridge closure - and the disruption of people passing by his business as they travel between Fife and Tacoma.