State delays Ebey Slough bridge replacement

MARYSVILLE This town has a new police chief and a new online paperless agenda, but Mayor Dennis Kendall is working to get a new bridge for Ebey Slough off of the back burner.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has plans to build a new, fixed four-lane bridge to replace the 80-year-old swinging bridge over the slough. The 722-foot bridge is 70 percent designed and was one of many projects dangled before voters to keep them from repealing a nine-and-a-half-cent fuel tax on the ballot in 2005.
Now Gov. Christine Gregoires budget has WSDOT planners reprioritizing projects around the state to deal with a rapid rise in the cost of construction materials and labor. That means the new bridge will likely not be finished within a decade planners from the Seattle WSDOT office said in 2005 that if the gas tax was kept in place construction could start as soon as 2008 with completion by 2009. Now state officials have pushed that back to 2014 and it might get delayed even further, according to Kendall. He said Gregoires new budget moved the SR 529 replacement bridge back to 2014, and planners were batting around a 2017 date. Kendall met with State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, who indicated that the bridge has been put back onto the 2008 timeline.
Its basically ready to go, Kendall said. Its at 70 percent designed all ready.
Marysvilles Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson and Public Works Director Paul Roberts visited Olympia to plead the cause, as have City Council members Lee Phillips and John Soriano.
Weve been in constant contact with everybody down there, Kendall said, adding that Haugen was moved by the effort and was trying to make something happen. It looks like shes moving to get that reinstated.
WSDOT spokesman Travis Phelps said the department is re-evaluating projects state-wide in light of 20 percent and 30 percent increases in the cost of materials and labor. For example, the 2005 estimate for the new SR 529 bridge was $28 million, and on Monday Phelps said the price was now $36.7 million. That has WSDOT planners performing triage to prioritize transportation projects, but things are just being batted around at this stage, Phelps emphasized.
Nothings set in stone here, its just an idea for the legislature, Phelps said.
The new bridge would be high enough for boats to pass under and incorporates design elements like street lamps that mimic those on State Avenue and Third Street. Six-foot-wide sidewalks and four-foot shoulders would complement the four lanes of north-south pavement. The current bridge bears an average of 15,000 daily car trips and opened 73 times during 2004 when the Interfor sawmill upstream required tugs to two log booms up river to feed the mill. That mill is shut down and the city has acquired the site, using it as a yard for the public works department with potential plans for a new city hall campus someday.

New Chief sworn in
Marysvilles Police Chief Rick Smith was sworn in at 6:30 a.m. on March 5 by Kendall, as both watches of the department were on hand during the shift change to observe the ceremony. He was still at his desk 11 hours later, as he finished moving in to his hew quarters in the Public Safety Building.
Its going good, Smith said. Just trying to get everything done. Its hurry up, do as much as you can and then go to Council.

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