Bridge closure raises issue of our disaster readiness

EVERETT — One little crash. One little bridge.

One big headache.

The closure of northbound Highway 529 between Everett and Marysville on Dec. 3 shut down the city for hours during the evening commute.

Everyone in Everett got stuck there.

Now imagine if there was a natural disaster.

In Snohomish County, a commuter community sliced and diced by rivers, floodplains and sloughs, it doesn’t take much to cut off Point A from Point B.

“This is a really good exercise for what would be magnified significantly after a very large earthquake,” said John Pennington, the county’s top emergency management official.

Seismologists say the Pacific Northwest is ripe for a big quake. The risk also is spelled out in the county’s hazard-mitigation plan. We’d likely lose bridges and see a whole lot of water coming from the east and west.

A lot of the lessons to be learned from the Highway 529 closure fall at the individual level, Pennington said.

People should think about what worked for them and what didn’t when they got stuck, he said. Were they cold, hungry or thirsty? Did they have a way to communicate with their family and their workplace?

In a disaster, people at work during the day could be separated from loved ones, including children, he said. Did they have a plan?

No matter where you’re at, you and your loved ones should have supplies to “hunker down for several days,” he said

“With one little bridge being down impacting our community so strongly, imagine four bridges in our community being down,” Pennington said.

The 85-year-old bridge over the Snohomish River was closed for repairs after a suspected drunken driver slammed into its support beams. The repairs cost an estimated $80,000 and hundreds of man-hours, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The heaviest work is done, department spokeswoman Jamie Holter said Friday. Crews still have some minor tasks left, including fixing curbs.

The driver in the crash could face charges of drunken driving, attempting to elude police, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Most Read