On January 28, 1939, the Washington State Department of Highways (now the Washington State Department of Transportation) discontinues the toll on the Manette Bridge. The department had purchased the bridge in 1938. The Manette Bridge had been constructed in 1929-1930, and dedicated on June 21, 1930. Allowing direct passage over Port Washington Narrows, it had eliminated a long automobile trip, or a boat ride, that had been necessary for workers from the Manette side to reach jobs at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, in Bremerton proper. The elimination of the toll is cause for celebration.
The Monster Illumination
The Washington State Department of Highways bought the bridge for $320,585.66, thus paying off all debt and allowing for the toll to be discontinued, allowing drivers to cross for free. This event was celebrated on the Saturday afternoon of that day.
At 4:00 p.m., traffic on the bridge was halted. A ceremony followed, on the bridge, with speeches by Washington State governor Clarence D. Martin (1887-1955), Naval Shipyard Admiral Edward B. Fenner, and other “distinguished guests.” At 5:30 p.m., State Senator Lulu Haddon cut a symbolic ribbon, after which the bridge was opened to toll-free traffic.
At 6:00 p.m. a celebratory dinner was held at the Manette Masonic Temple. At 7:30, fireworks gave the signal for previously distributed red flares to be lit at “every home and vantage point” within sight of the bridge. Participants were urged to make as much noise as they could. Naval battleships and tugs turned on their searchlights, adding to the effect. This “Monster Illumination of the Manette Bridge” lasted until 8:30 p.m.
Afterwards, gatherings and dances took place at all of the nearby communities, and travelers were encouraged to visit the celebrations. It was expected that thousands of vehicles would cross the bridge that evening. Presumably, the toll house at the west end of the bridge was demolished shortly after the toll was lifted.
Later, in 1958, the toll for the Manette Bridge was reinstated when a new bridge, the Warren Avenue Bridge, was constructed to relieve traffic pressure across Port Washington Narrows. A toll was imposed on the new bridge and, to discourage creation of a traffic bottleneck, the toll for crossing the Manette Bridge was restored. Thus, crossing at both bridges required a toll, until 1972, when the Warren Avenue Bridge had been paid for, and tolls were removed from both spans.
During the 2000s the narrow, two-lane Manette Bridge was deemed inadequate and was scheduled for replacement. Demolition work began in the summer of 2010. The replacement bridge opened on November 10, 2011.