Why did we study this?
All construction projects in the Pacific Northwest take place on land that has been inhabited by indigenous people for over 14 centuries, and some projects may impact historically important buildings and structures. Before we start digging or demolishing, we want to know if we will uncover or disturb any sites or structures of historical or cultural relevance. Pierce County is committed to mitigating impacts to archaeological sites; historic buildings, roads, and bridges; and places on the landscape that are historically significant to Washington State.
What did we find out?
While the project area is within the bounds of the historic Puyallup Tribe of Indians reservation, it has already been heavily altered by logging, farming, river channel modifications such as levees, and development prior to this project. The project team found evidence of organic material near the historic confluence of the Puyallup River and Clarks Creek as well as shell deposits that were likely the result of natural river activity. The team also uncovered evidence of a buried land surface from before European colonization of the area. This area, near the confluence of the Puyallup River and Clarks Creek, on the north bank of the river, may contain archeologic artifacts at 25 feet below the surface. The report recommends an archeological monitor be present during construction in this area, or that the project team conduct a more thorough investigation before the project begins.
The project will result in the removal and replacement of the Milroy Bridge. Although the bridge is a rare Washington State example of a Pennsylvania petit truss bridge, it is functionally obsolete, and it sits over the land of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians which would prefer to see it removed. Pierce County may be required to make the existing bridge available for a different use, such as a pedestrian bridge in a different location, provided a responsible party agrees to maintain and preserve it. Because the Milroy Bridge has lead paint, its new home should not be over water.
Pierce County will develop further measures to minimize harm to historic resources in consultation with Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the FHWA, and WSDOT.
Pierce County will also need to purchase part of the property once owned by Bert Smyser, a locally renowned architect and designer whose 1941 Streamline Modern house was known as the “Home of Tomorrow.” The house itself will not be impacted by the project.
The Puyallup River Levee, an early example of a concrete channel being used for flood protection, will be temporarily impacted by the construction of the bridge, but those impacts will be minor and reversible.
This map shows where the project sits within the historic boundaries of the Puyallup Tribe ofIndians reservation.
This report is still in progress.