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Toll plaza taking shape

Another large section of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge will start taking shape today as crews begin work on the roof of the future toll plaza, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Using a crane, crews will place two large steel roof truss segments on top of the large support columns already set in the toll plaza lanes.

Once hoisted into place, the trusses — or beams — will be welded together, forming a roof structure almost 113 feet long and weighing 90,000 pounds.

Once finished, the toll canopy roof will cover the six manual toll booths and lanes.

Also this week, WSDOT crews planned to complete repair work on a section of the bridge damaged in an accident last October. However, due to snow forecasts, WSDOT has cancelled the planned closure of the right eastbound lane of the existing Narrows Bridge on Saturday, Jan. 8 to repair pedestrian handrails damaged by a vehicle collision.

In other bridge news:

-- WSDOT is hosting an open house at Tacoma Alliance Church Jan. 25 to inform State Route 16 corridor commuters about the 2005 Construction Season — specifically road and bridge activities between Union Avenue in Tacoma and Olympic Drive in Gig Harbor. Four 30-minute presentations are planned, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Doors of the church, at 2401 S. Orchard Street, open at 6 p.m.

-- Public meetings about ramp meters begin next month

Starting this spring, the Narrows Bridge Project will install the first of five eastbound ramp meters, which control the rate of vehicles entering the flow of freeway traffic. To acquaint peninsula communities with ramp metering and how it will work, WSDOT plans to host public meetings on Feb. 9 in Purdy, Feb. 16 in Key Center and Mar. 1 in Gig Harbor. Watch for details on the TNB Project web site, www.tacomanarrowsbridge.com

-- Possible eastbound on-ramp at 24th Street NW?

WSDOT has been analyzing the feasibility of adding an eastbound SR 16 on-ramp from 24th Street NW, which would be limited to drivers paying toll fees electronically. It reports it has begun the lengthy approval and permit process that must take place before negotiations, design or construction can begin.

-- Narrowsgate property community planning.

In the fall, Gig Harbor residents and leaders within Pierce County finalized a conceptual plan that could convert the Narrowsgate property (north side of SR 16 between 14th and 24th streets NW) to a park. The plan prepares the community and local leaders to take action in the future, which would entail WSDOT deciding to surplus the property and the new owner carrying out the plan. The plan was the product of two workshops convened by WSDOT’s TNB Project Office, and the group meets with WSDOT again in early January.

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