Granite Falls seeks grant to replace 81-year-old bridge

GRANITE FALLS — The aging bridge near the city’s namesake waterfall is too narrow for heavy trucks to pass safely in opposite directions.

Hopes of replacing the 81-year-old span over the South Fork Stillaguamish River are riding now on a federal grant request. Snohomish County Public Works staff applied recently for $16 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If it comes through, the grant could speed up work to replace the structure known as Granite Falls Bridge No. 102. The process is highly competitive, though, and will pit the bridge against big-city and rural projects throughout the country.

“If we were to get this grant, we’d probably look at construction in 2017,” said Doug McCormick, a program planning manager for the county’s Public Works Department. “Of course, that’s in a perfect world, if everything falls into place.”

The county hopes to hear back this fall or winter. Work would likely take place over two construction seasons.

The existing bridge was dedicated July 17, 1934. It measures 340 feet long and crosses the Stilly less than two miles from downtown Granite Falls.

Trucks use the bridge to carry crushed rock from quarries along the Mountain Loop Highway to construction sites throughout the region, including the new Boeing Co. 777X wing plant in Everett. Last year, an average of 1,200 heavy trucks traveled the bridge every day. It’s also a school bus route.

It provides access to popular campgrounds and hiking trails along with hundreds of homes in small communities such as Verlot, Silverton and Robe. If the bridge goes out, those communities must rely on the Mountain Loop Highway through Darrington, which is closed during the winter.

“People living in the Robe Valley area would be cut off from civilization in the event of a bridge closure,” said Fred Cruger, a Granite Falls planning commissioner and member of the local historical society. “So from the perspective of the City of Granite Falls, acting to avert such a disaster is simply good planning.”

The county’s public works staff submitted the $16 million request June 5 through the federal transportation department’s TIGER program, which focuses on projects that promote economic recovery. The county contends a new bridge would complement the Granite Falls Alternate Route, which opened in 2010 to divert heavy truck traffic from downtown streets.

The federal grant would cover most of the project’s estimated $22 million cost. The county has spent $700,000 already on design work, and has committed to spending $800,000 more.

“We’ll be using the existing bridge while we’re building the new bridge,” McCormick said. “We’re looking at an alignment just downstream for the new bridge.”

The existing bridge measures just 20 feet from curb to curb. Steel truss construction eliminates the possibility of widening it, the county says. It is rated structurally deficient, but that doesn’t mean it’s about to collapse.

“This bridge isn’t in imminent danger of falling down,” said Bobann Fogard, the county’s transportation and environmental services director. “It’s outdated for the type of use of it is getting.”

The new bridge, with concrete girders, would be longer than the existing one. It would have 15-foot-wide lanes plus sidewalks in each direction.

Current plans call for demolishing the old bridge, but there’s been talk locally about keeping it as a pedestrian walkway over the river gorge, next to the fish ladder.

“When built, it was the ‘key’ that opened the Mountain Loop for tourism,” Cruger wrote in an email. “To demolish it unnecessarily would serve little purpose, but to preserve it would serve to enhance tourism for the city and the area.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A driver struck a woman in a motorized wheelchair Saturday in Lynnwood. (Lynnwood police)
Woman on wheelchair hit by car in Lynnwood, seriously hurt

The woman was on a sidewalk, passing by a drive-thru in Lynnwood, when a driver pulled out and hit her.

A barge worker hauls in an oil boom before heading off with the remains of the Mukilteo Ferry Dock ramp and pier on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. With the new dock in operation, all that is left is to tear down the old ticket building. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Old Mukilteo ferry dock afloat on the barge of ‘Lincoln Logs’

The haul included 213 wood pilings, 15 concrete pilings, 47 steel pilings and a “Speed Limit 15” sign.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's richest residents, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, would pay a wealth tax on certain financial assets worth more than $1 billion under a proposed bill whose sponsor says she is seeking a fair and equitable tax code. Under the bill, starting Jan. 1, 2022, for taxes due in 2023, a 1% tax would be levied not on income, but on "extraordinary" assets ranging from cash, publicly traded options, futures contracts, and stocks and bonds. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Federal package could drive more than $10B to Washington

The state would get $7.6B for COVID response, schools and child care. Snohomish County is in line for $160M.

Samantha Lake
Missing girl, 12, found safely

Seattle FBI located Samantha Lake on Friday.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Jeanette Ho Shin Weddell, 96, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 29, 2020. (Contributed photo)
Marysville grandmother, 96, was one in half a million lost

In a week when the president took time to mourn COVID deaths, local families were grieving, too.

An access road leads into plot of land located in north Darrington that could potentially be used to build a 30-acre Wood Innovation Center, which will house CLT manufacturing and modular building companies on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Darrington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$6 million grant is green light for Darrington timber center

The Darrington Wood Innovation Center is set to become a reality — bringing roughly 150 jobs with it.

Report shows vaccine inequities in Snohomish County

The county’s Hispanic population is getting doses at a third of the rate of white residents.

Most Read