Haugen: Bridge replacement back on track

MARYSVILLE Plans to delay a new Ebey Slough bridge on SR 529 have been scotched according to an influential legislator who said the current replacement schedule of a 2008 start date should hold.
State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen of Camano Island said the Washington State Department of Transportation had a list of projects that could be delayed due to increased costs, but she has put the project back in the budget.
Were really working hard to get that bridge put back on the time frame it was on, said Haugen, a Democrat who serves as chairwoman of the Senate transportation committee. The House is looking like it will put it back too.
It should be about two weeks before Gov. Christine Gregoires budget is finalized but Haugen felt pretty good about the chances for a new bridge being kept on the front burner.
The debate will go on afterward, she added.
Haugen emphasized that she has to provide for projects around the entire state, but said she drives through the Marysville area all the time on her way to Seattle and Olympia. She noted that anytime an accident shuts down I-5, traffic has to have somewhere to go and the 84-year-old, two-lane bridge cant cut it. A four-lane, fixed-span is 70 percent designed, according to WSDOT engineers.
Its certainly something that is a priority for me, Haugen said.
As for the cable barriers in the I-5 median, Haugen said she has already started to stash money for a potential solution, but she wanted to wait until the results of a report ordered by Gov. Gregoire are released. The barriers have been cited by many critics for failing to keep cars from crossing the center median in several deadly accidents over the last four years. In the most recent tragedy an SUV crossed two sets of cable barriers and crashed into a bus. The Feb. 13 accident killed a 64-year-old Everett man in the SUV and severely injured a Canadian woman driving the empty tour bus.
A single set of three cables had just been moved out of the bottom of a small ditch and paired with another set on either side of the median.

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