Longest prestressed concrete girder to be installed on Tacoma bridge

Massive girder will complete the backbone of a bridge that will carry southbound I-5 traffic over the Puyallup River

January 06, 2021 / 2 minute read
Construction of the southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge.
Construction of the southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. Image: WSDOT

This month, the longest prestressed concrete girder made in North America will be installed on the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge in Tacoma, according to the Washington State DOT (WSDOT).

WSDOT says at 223 ft long, almost 9 ft high, and more than 246,500 lb, the girder sets a record. This massive girder, along with 29 others that are almost as big, will complete the backbone of a bridge that will carry southbound I-5 traffic over the Puyallup River and several railroad lines.

According to WSDOT's blog, the project's contractor, Guy F. Atkinson Construction, will begin installing these girders this week. Each weeknight through the month of January, construction crews will move the girders from their current home at Concrete Technology Corporation in Tacoma to their new home on the southbound side of the new I-5 Puyallup River bridge. Two cranes will move three to five girders a night into place. Once installed, this final set of girders—along with 54 others that were installed in February 2020—will form the backbone of the new bridge.

Installing these girders will require some overnight lane and ramp closures, WSDOT says. Once installed, the team will be one step closer to easing congestion on I-5 near the Puyallup River Bridge and connecting HOV lanes from SR 16 in Gig Harbor to I-5 and across the Puyallup River in Tacoma and into King County.

With the bridge's backbone firmly in place, construction crews can continue building the bridge deck and take the next step forward in paving the road. 

The contractor hopes to have one or two lanes open for southbound travelers exiting to SR 167/Portland Avenue or coming from the Port of Tacoma Road sometime in the summer of 2021. All lanes of the new bridge are tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2021.

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SOURCE: Washington State DOT

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