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;

More in Local News

Mom gives her $25,000 windfall to Marysville high schools

Among the beneficiaries is the drama club, which gets much-needed audio equipment.

Why Republican legislators voted against a property tax cut

You’ll no doubt be hearing about it in campaign ads next fall.

Driver hospitalized after I-5 rollover crash near Arlington

A medical problem is believed to have caused the accident.

Man struck, killed by Everett Transit bus Friday night

He was in the roadway between 75th Street SE and Beverly Boulevard when he was hit, police said.

Sky Valley honors its own

Civic and nonprofit groups in Sultan, Gold Bar, Index and Skykomish gather to recognize volunteers.

Rotary Club of Everett honors outstanding seniors

The Rotary Club of Everett honored its February Students of the Month:… Continue reading

ORCA places third at Orca Bowl

A team from Everett Community College’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) for… Continue reading

Edmonds man gets prison for Navy cadet program embezzlement

Michael Leighton, 49, also must pay over $75,000 in restitution.

New books donated to Edmonds schools highlight diversity

The Edmonds Diversity Commission donated children’s books to local elementary schools that… Continue reading

Most Read