Loss of Everett bridge made for rough commute

EVERETT — Police have recommended felony charges against a suspected drunken driver whose run-in with a guard rail along Highway 529 this weekend helped create a traffic nightmare that turned north Everett into a parking lot by Monday evening.

Thousands of additional northbound drivers were forced onto I-5 for the evening commute, clogging virtually all downtown thoroughfares. Minor crashes and ill-tempered drivers meant that even ambulance operators were adding 10-minute delays on emergency calls: That’s with lights and sirens.

The northbound bridge to Marysville was expected to reopen by noon Tuesday.

Police allege that an Everett woman, 37, was drunk, speeding and driving with a suspended license early Saturday morning when she crashed during a brief police chase. Her SUV slammed into a guard rail and caused enough damage to force the closure of the Highway 529 bridge.

The woman was fleeing a traffic stop on Broadway, according to police.

Around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy was on duty when the sports utility vehicle sped north on Broadway.

The SUV was believed to be traveling at almost twice the posted speed limit, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. The deputy stopped the driver in the 3800 block of Broadway.

That’s when he learned that the suspect’s license had been suspended since 2006.

She drove away, reaching up to 80 mph on Highway 529 toward Marysville, Ireton said.

“As she crossed the bridge over the Snohomish River, her SUV collided with the guardrail on the left side, causing significant damage to her vehicle,” Ireton said.

The woman was taken to a local hospital where she was evaluated for what were believed to be minor injuries. She was not booked into the jail. However, the sheriff’s office has forwarded reports to the prosecutor’s office and is recommending charges of attempting to elude, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license, Ireton said.

The wreck caused vertical and diagonal support beams to break away from connecting bolts on the bridge. It also damaged and cracked about 30 feet of the bridge’s guardrail, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Repairing the damage has been a challenge.

“It’s just a tremendous amount of work,” said Jamie Holter, a state transportation spokeswoman. “It’s difficult work because there are multiple steel beams and multiple steel plates. They’re telling us that they’re burning through motors on drills.”

Repairs are estimated to cost $30,000. The state plans to seek reimbursement, possibly through the vehicle owner’s insurance company.

The bridge closure caused traffic on northbound I-5, U.S. 2 and city streets to back up for miles. The congestion coincided with multiple crashes, including one on U.S. 2 that squeezed traffic out of Everett into a single lane.

One commuter reported that it took nearly 90 minutes to travel the nine blocks between Grand Avenue and Broadway along Everett Avenue. That’s the most direct route to northbound I-5 from downtown, and it typically takes about five minutes.

The steel truss bridge that was damaged along Highway 529 was built in 1927 and is used by about 15,000 vehicles on a typical weekday.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

After work to address issues, Lynnwood gets clean audit

The city has benefited from increased revenues from sales tax.

Bolshevik replaces BS in Eyman’s voters pamphlet statement

The initiative promoter also lost a bid to include a hyperlink to online coverage of the battle.

Man with shotgun confronts man on toilet about missing phone

Police say the victim was doing his business when the suspect barged in and threatened him.

Detectives seek suspect in woman’s homicide

Alisha Michelle Canales-McGuire was shot to death Wednesday at a home south of Paine Field.

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

Smith Island habitat restoration cost to rise $1.2 million

The project is intended to increase survival rates for juvenile chinook salmon.

Jim Mathis, the Vietnam veteran whose Marysville garden was recently featured in The Herald, died Wednesday. Mathis, who suffered from PTSD and cancer, found solace in his beautiful garden. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Vietnam veteran Jim Mathis found peace in his garden

The Marysville man who served two tours died Wednesday after suffering from cancer and PTSD.

Most Read