By Jerry Cornfield
The Washington State Transportation Commission on Tuesday will consider renaming the rebuilt Skagit River bridge on I-5 in memory of Sean O’Connell, the Washington State Patrol trooper killed while working on a detour route following the bridge collapse in May.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau and Captain Jeff Sass of the state patrol’s Marysville office will make their pitch to commissioners who are meeting in Seattle. The hearing is slated to begin around 11:30 a.m. It will be televised on and webcast by TVW and webcast as well on www.tvw.org.
The bridge collapsed after getting struck by a truck with an oversized load. O’Connell died after his motorcycle collided with a box truck May 30 near Conway while working the detour.
Soon after, Rankin and Reps. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon and Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, announced plans to asked the commission to put O’Connell’s name on the span.
“Renaming the bridge in Officer O’Connell’s honor is just a small token of our gratitude for his 16 years of dedication to our state, but it doesn’t even begin to display the level of appreciation all Washingtonians have for his service or the heartache and compassion we feel for his family in the wake of his loss,” they said at the time.
In the meantime, a Bothell man has filed paperwork for an initiative to the Legislature to rename the span for Mukilteo’s Tim Eyman, the promoter of anti-tax initiatives.
The earliest that measure could reach the ballot is November 2014. If commissioners put O’Connell’s name on the bridge and then the initiative makes the ballot, voters could be deciding whether the trooper or Eyman should have their name on the structure.