06 March 2013

Bridges of Tacoma

With the recent reopening of the Murray Morgan Bridge, I've started thinking about some of Tacoma's bridges. The Murray Morgan, also known as the 11th Street Bridge, connects downtown to the working waterfront and the Port of Tacoma. It now has a dedicated bike lane in both directions.

There's the 21st Street Bridge, that connects downtown with Northeast Tacoma via WA-509. Bicycles are permitted, but I would recommend finding ways around it unless you are in a car.

Photo by Mrs. TBR

Of course, most folks think of the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge, which is now actually two bridges. The newer one has a separated multi-use lane that is amazing to ride or walk on, especially at night. Plus you don't have to pay the bridge toll if you walk or bike across. Cha-ching!

There are other bridges in Tacoma that don't span waterways, but until today I hadn't used one of the most visible of those land crossings. The 38th Street Pedestrian Bridge crosses eight lanes (or maybe 9 or 10?) of Interstate 5 in the middle of the city. This bridge has a long ramp on the west side near Costco. It's actually very easy to find and use.

I'll add that the main arterial intersection nearest to this point, South 38th and Steele, is probably the most pedestrian and bicycle UNfriendly intersection in the city, not to mention one of the busiest. This bridge is here for a reason.

As you get to the top of the ramp, look south and hear the 38th Street exit roaring along.

Or look north towards the never-ending reconstruction of the Highway 16/I-5 interchange. CHA-CHING.

I had already biked underneath the Highway 16 construction zone, waiting in line with the idling cars on South Tacoma Way. Maybe it was the construction, or maybe it was the rain, or maybe just the fact that I couldn't hear myself think through the traffic noise, but I looked like this as I crossed the bridge towards Jennie Reed Elementary and the East Side.

Whatever the reason may have been, I'm glad that the 38th Street Pedestrian Bridge is there. It made my ride safer and easier than using the main 38th Street Overpass. I was smiling again as soon as I was back on terra-firma, rolling away from the freeway.

From the East Side, I dropped down towards Hill Top and home. On the way, I figured out how to fit the Tacoma Dome on my bike rack.

There are many more bridges in Tacoma. Which bridges do you use? 


Matthias Bonjour said...

You are too right about that 38th and Steel jntersection. I used to ride that every day to get to work and now I take Pine St to S 12th. No bike lanes but people drive differently.

As for bridges, the narrows is the gateway to cycling adventures for me.

tacomee said...

As much as I love the new Murray Morgan, and it's really a great upgrade for Tacoma, the 34th street bridge is still my favorite. I love looking at Downtown Tacoma and the Hilltop as I ride over it. The City needs to re-do Delin bridge now, because it's the best way to climb up to the South End and the East Side by bike.