EVERETT — Contractors tore down a footbridge that once carried workers to the Kimberly-Clark paper mill on Everett’s waterfront.
About 700 people lost their jobs when the plant shut down in 2012, closing a chapter in the history of a city built on the timber industry. Since then the mill’s buildings have been leveled, leaving little evidence that it ever existed, beyond the bridge that took workers over West Marine View Drive.
Only a few spectators stopped by to watch the rusting bridge come down Saturday morning. One of them, Matt Schleuter, used to ride with his dad, a truck driver, when he’d make deliveries to the plant. They would cross under the bridge and rumble over the railroad tracks to the loading bays.
Schleuter, 29, went to Everett High School a few blocks away. Some things, he doesn’t miss about the mill.
“All the exhaust and fumes that would come off of it was like a rotten egg,” he said. “You’d come out of the school, and it’d be smelling like crazy.”
But it was a key part of the city’s industrial background, he said, and the bridge was one of the last remaining pieces of the mill.
The construction crew shut down the waterfront road for hours, to use heavy machinery and torches to strip apart the pedestrian overpass. A pair of excavator arms lifted the span, mostly in one piece, and eased it to the ground. Ben Hayden, 60, walked down to watch from behind a chain-link fence. From his home up the hill, he had a view of the Kimberly-Clark mill for about two decades.
“Every once in a while it looked like it was snowing in the middle of the summertime,” he said. “It was just toilet paper.”
Now he can see the water and the giant Navy ships on Puget Sound. New development was stalled for years on the 66-acre plot, largely because it was contaminated from decades of industrial use.
Hayden had friends who lost good wages when the mill closed and they left town for new work. He was glad to see the bridge go.
“It’s an eyesore down there,” he said. “If they kept it clean, it’d be one thing. But it was a garbage dump for a while.”
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; email@example.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.