Bridges won’t stay down

By WARREN CORNWALL

Herald Writer

EVERETT – A state effort to ease congestion on a highway joining Everett and Marysville has been stymied by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard rejected a state Department of Transportation request earlier this year that the marine agency keep drawbridges on Highway 529 closed during morning and evening rush hours.

The Coast Guard turned down the request because the closures could hurt a tide-dependent towing business on the Snohomish River, said Austin Pratt, bridge maintenance specialist for the Coast Guard office in Seattle.

In addition, the drawbridges on the highway, including the large one over the Snohomish River, were far less active than others with rush-hour limits, Pratt said.

"No other drawbridge in our district has as few openings as the Snohomish Bridge and has a closure on it," said Pratt, whose district includes Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho.

Transportation officials, who had argued the drawbridges were causing "extensive highway traffic backups," have settled instead for a voluntary deal that the towing company cut trips beneath the bridges by a third during rush hours.

But Klara Fabry, the department’s area administrator for Snohomish County, said this may not be the final word.

"I am not viewing this as a closed issue. I am viewing this as an evolving issue," she said.

In its initial application, the state claimed the three bridges on that stretch of road opened during high-traffic hours 107 times in 1999. The openings caused backups that could reach nearly a half-mile. The department sought a ban on bridge openings from 6 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m.

But Coast Guard officials said even the busiest bridge opened far less often than bridges in Seattle subject to opening restrictions. For example, the Ballard bridge opened more than 5,000 times in 1999 including nonrush-hour times, compared with 452 for the Snohomish River bridge, John Mikesell, the Coast Guard district’s Plans and Programs Section chief, wrote in a letter to the Transportation Department.

That wasn’t enough to override the right-of-way that water traffic traditionally has over cars.

That should be welcome news for Dunlap Towing Co., which tows barges laden with wood chips down the Snohomish River. In the past, company officials opposed restrictions, saying they depended on the tides to safely take their boats down the river, even if the tides came during rush hour.

A company spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday.

Fabry said she hoped the voluntary effort would help reduce the problem. The department is also considering installing message signs near entrances to Highway 529 that could alert drivers when the bridge was going up, giving them time to take an alternate route like I-5, she said.

"I certainly feel very optimistic," she said.

You can call Herald Writer Warren Cornwall at 425-339-3463 or send e-mail

tocornwall@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Foamy brown water, emanating a smell similar to sewage, runs along the property line of Lisa Jansson’s home after spilling off from the DTG Enterprises property on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. Jansson said the water in the small stream had been flowing clean and clear only a few weeks earlier. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Neighbors of Maltby recycling facility assert polluted runoff, noise

For years, the DTG facility has operated without proper permits. Residents feel a heavy burden as “watchdogs” holding the company accountable.

Rosario Resort and Spa on Orcas Island (Photo provided by Empower Investing)
Orcas Island’s storied Rosario Resort finds a local owner

Founded by an Orcas Island resident, Empower Investing plans” dramatic renovations” to restore the historic resort.

A possible development site for Snohomish Garden Townhomes at 9321 Paradise Lake Road on Friday, April 5, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Neighbors’ effort falls short of stopping 196 townhomes near Maltby

Nearby residents said the proposed development would make traffic much worse along Highway 522 — among other concerns.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

Dan Templeman speaks during a forum lead by The Daily Herald on housing affordability at the Mukilteo Library on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
At Herald forum, experts affirm Housing First model, despite downsides

At the Mukilteo Library, panelists discussed drug-contaminated housing and lengthy cleanup efforts in Snohomish County.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.