Gig Harbor, Wash.— The new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened for traffic at 4:01 a.m. July 16, marking the last major milestone in the five-year, $849-million construction project (see PB&E, Jan. 15, 2007; June 6, 2005; and Sept. 1, 2003).
Tacoma Narrow Constructors, a joint venture of Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. and Kiewit Pacific Co., built the bridge parallel to and south of the 1950 Narrows Bridge. It carries four 11-foot-wide lanes of eastbound traffic toward Tacoma from the Kitsap Peninsula, while the old bridge carries westbound traffic. The new bridge deck is 5,400 feet in total length, with 2,800 feet in the main span. Towers and caissons are designed for a second deck (either road or light rail) to be added in the future. The bridge's two concrete towers are 510 feet high and consumed 8,000 cubic yards of concrete each.
In all, 41,241 drivers paid the tolls on opening day for the new bridge. Smooth-flowing traffic heralded both the morning and afternoon commutes as drivers zipped along the Good To Go! electronic toll lanes with no congestion. Even those using the manual toll booths experienced little delay as toll operators moved drivers quickly through the lanes. While traffic seemed light, in fact the total volume was just slightly less than a typical Monday during the summer.