Winter storms threaten Camano’s lifeline, state warns

CAMANO ISLAND — One big winter storm could leave people unable to drive to and from Camano Island, so the state is planning to replace the Davis Slough bridge before it’s damaged by mounds of driftwood, high tides and flooding.

Davis Slough is located on a section of Highway 532 just west of the new Camano Gateway Bridge. The roadway there sits far too low for comfort, said state Department of Transportation project engineer Shane Spahr.

“Potentially, one strong storm could close the highway,” Spahr said.

The Davis Slough bridge, at 63 years old, isn’t a strong structure. During storms, large amounts of driftwood stack up against the bridge, he said. So, plans are in the works to raise and widen the highway there and replace the bridge.

The state plans to advertise the project early in 2013. The work is scheduled to begin next summer, with the estimated $26 million project to be completed in 2014. If all goes well, no major traffic delays are expected, Spahr said.

Project plans and pictures are to be displayed at a community open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Camano Center, 606 Arrowhead Road on the island. Engineers plan to be on hand to answer questions and provide details about the project. No formal presentations are scheduled, so people are welcome to show up any time during the open house.

A good crowd is expected, Spahr said.

Julie Shallow, who has lived on Camano Island since 1999, plans to attend.

“I think the state will do the best they can to make this as painless as possible,” Shallow said. “There’s never a perfect time for construction. We will adjust our lives and commutes and just try to be as patient as possible. It sounds like it’s work that needs to be done.”

More than 15,000 people live on Camano Island, and Highway 532 is busy all the time, Spahr said.

To help drivers, the state plans first to build a section of new highway on the south side of the current bridge. In the summer of 2014, drivers will use the new section of highway at Davis Slough while the old is torn down and replaced.

Nearly a mile of highway will be raised 5 to 9 feet, and the shoulders, lanes and median will be widened in the area between Smith and Eide roads, Spahr said.

“Though the roadway shoulders will be very narrow during construction, we should be able to have two lanes of traffic open most of the time,” he said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Open house

A community open house regarding an upcoming construction project on Highway 532 is set from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Camano Center, 606 Arrowhead Road, Camano Island. For those unable to attend, more information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr532/DavisSloughBridge.

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