Copper thieves ransacked the powerhouse atop the Murray Morgan Bridge around Thanksgiving, causing between $250,000 and $300,000 in damage and dealing a heavy blow to the City of Tacoma’s effort to repair and reopen the historic structure.
The thieves pulled copper wire out of conduits leading to the mechanical room on the bridge, where electric motors and a series of gears raise and lower the structure.
Because of the damage, the bridge is stuck in the down position, unable to accommodate tall vessels passing in and out of the Foss Waterway.
The thieves probably got away with between 300 and 400 pounds of copper, which has a salvage value of about $3 a pound, said Tom Rutherford, the city engineer in charge of the bridge rehabilitation project.
The heavy expense, Rutherford said, is because of the damage the thieves did to equipment in removing the wire.
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