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Donations adding up as bridge celebration nears

The amount of money and materials donated to offset the cost of celebrating the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge is growing steadily and recently climbed above $160,000, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Two weeks ago, the WSDOT’s budget for this Sunday’s opening day party was reported to be $260,000, although spokeswoman Claudia Cornish said that amount was changing daily thanks to a steady stream of donations.

As of Monday, the WSDOT reported that the amount of cash and in-kind services donated to the soiree had reached $162,000. At the end of June, that amount totaled $70,000.

The largest chunk — $50,000 — is credited to the company building the bridge, Tacoma Narrows Constructors(TNC), followed by $15,000 each donated by both Sprint/Nextel and the engineering firm CH2M Hill.

Other donations include $7,500 from the Port of Tacoma, and $5,000 each from the Emerald Queen Casino, Geo Engineers and Transcore.

“We cannot solicit these donations, but we can accept them,” Cornish said, explaining that even accepting them was not allowed before the latest legislative session passed a bill opening the door for them.

In addition to the cash amounts, the WSDOT reports more than a dozen companies have pledged “in-kind” donations, such as: Blimpies, the City of Tacoma, Gig Harbor History Museum, Ivar’s, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Starbucks and the Washington State Lottery.

In addition to collecting donations, the WSDOT is also busy preparing the roads leading to the bridge for the onslaught of cars.

While TNC crews work on State-Route 16 on both sides of the Narrows, Cornish said motorists can expect delays and are advised, if at all possible, to avoid unnecessary trips through the area.

Scheduled work includes:

• Today at 9 p.m. - Reducing westbound SR 16 to one lane between the weigh

station and Olympic Drive for roadway striping; the lane will reopen by 7 a.m. tomorrow.

• Tomorrow at 9 p.m. — Reducing westbound SR 16 to one lane between the pedestrian overpass and the east end of the bridge; again, the lane is expected to reopen by 7 a.m. Friday.

• Friday at 10 p.m. — Reducing westbound SR 16 to one lane for paving work on east end of bridge; lane to reopen by 8 a.m. Saturday.

For more information on the TNB project, visit tacomanarrowsbridge.com.

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