Chambers Creek Bridge Replacement
About the ProjectThe Chambers Creek Bridge serves as an essential roadway connection between the communities of Steilacoom and University Place. But after more than 70 years of use, the bridge shows signs of deterioration and impedes a regional project to restore salmon habitat.
Pierce County Surface Water Management is now exploring bridge replacement options as part of a greater effort to restore the Chambers Bay Estuary. The Chambers Creek Dam, which sits downstream of the bridge, is problematic because it blocks critical fish passage. A separate planning process consisting of multiple partnerships is underway to explore the dam's removal, but the exisiting bridge must first be replaced with a structure that can withstand any new hydraulic conditions.
Pierce County is currently requesting proposals from engineering firms to perform a Type, Size and Location study. The analysis will outline bridge crossing alternatives and assess all potential impacts from removing and replacing the current structure.
A Partnership: Restoration of the Chambers Bay Estuary
Forterra, Pierce County, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Squaxin Indian Tribe, Nisqually Indian Tribe and the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, with support from the Town of Steilacoom and the City of University Place, are working together to restore the Chambers Bay Estuary.
The area has been heavily modified by industry since the late 1800’s, cutting off natural tidal systems and salmon habitat. The project will include the removal of a 100-year-old dam, replacement of a functionally obsolete bridge, relocation of utilities, enhanced public safety and park facilities, restoration of up to 180 acres of estuary and opening of three miles of Chambers Creek, two miles of Flett Creek and two and a half miles of Leach Creek to five species of salmon.
Funding for design and construction of the project has not been secured but preliminary planning and engineering is in progress.
Total Restoration Project Funding
To date, the funding for preliminary designs and necessary studies has been provided through a series of small grants and County Surface Water Management funds. Overall project restoration costs are expected to be between $40-$60 million over the life of the project. Project partners anticipate completing the final design in 2024, pending identification of viable fund sources.
Bridge Project Funding
Pierce County is currently reviewing state and federal infrastructure grants for long-term funding sources for this project.
Photo Caption: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is joined by local officials and tribal representatives to spotlight restoration projects like the one at Chambers Creek.
- Chambers Bay Dam Removal Initial Feasibility Assessment - October 2010
- Pierce County Chambers Creek Dam Study Final Report - 2013
- Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Final Integrated Feasibility Report and EIS - 2016
- Chambers Creek Regional Park Master Site Plan Update - 2017
- Executive Summary: Chambers Bay Estuary Restoration Project - May 2022
- Salmon Recovery Presentation to Pierce County Council Economic and Infrastructure Committee - May 2022
Jointly owned and maintained by Pierce County and University Place, the Chambers Creek Bridge was built in 1946. It spans Chambers Creek on Chambers Creek Road connecting the communities of Steilacoom and University Place.