Innovative McMillin Bridge spanning the Puyallup River in Pierce County opens in 1934.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 9/12/2007
  • Essay 8286

In 1934, the McMillin Bridge, a reinforced-concrete truss bridge spanning the Puyallup River, opens in Pierce County. Engineer Homer Hadley (1885-1967) of the Portland Cement Association suggested its innovative design. The bridge carries State Route 162 across the river.

The bridge was built during the lean years of the Great Depression after an old steel span was washed out in a 1933 flood. State engineers asked for bids for a replacement bridge and Homer Hadley's reinforced-concrete truss structure, with pier columns of hollow-box construction came in $826 cheaper than the cheapest steel span.

The bridge's main span is 170 feet long and at the time it was the longest reinforced-concrete truss or beam span in the nation.

Sources: Craig Holstine and Richard Hobbs, Spanning Washington: Historic Highway Bridges of the Evergreen State (Pullman: WSU Press, 2005), 205-206; "Historic Bridges" Washington State Department of Transportation website accessed September 12, 2007 (; Wm. Michael Lawrence, "McMillin Bridge (Puyallup River Bridge)," August 1993, Historic American Engineering Record (HAER No. WA-73), Library of Congress American Memory website accessed March 20, 2005 (
Note: This essay was emended on February 11, 2016, to correct an error repeated through several sources. The bridge is not a concrete-box structure but rather a reinforced-concrete truss. The pier columns are hollow-box construction but not the truss members. Thanks to Craig Holstine, WSDOT bridge history specialist, for this correction.

Related Topics:   Bridges | Rivers | Roads & Rails

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