Highway 529 draw bridges won’t stop for landlubber rush hour

Only my children are excited about getting stuck at the Highway 529 draw bridge at rush hour.

Herald News Editor Mark Carlson raises this perennial pet peeve. Carlson once lived in Marysville and until recently continued to cut across the flats on his commute between work in Everett and home in La Conner.

“I’m sure this has been asked and answered over the years, but with commuter traffic heavier than ever, it’s time for WSDOT to stop Highway 529 Snohomish River bridge closures for barge traffic between 3 and 7 p.m., assuming it has the authority to do so. Marine traffic has to be timed for weather, tides and currents, so it can be timed to avoid rush hour, too,” Carlson writes.

Many share his angst.

But no change to policy is coming.

“Limiting bridge openings is difficult because waterways were used for travel long before our bridges were built, so maritime traffic gets priority,” said Tom Pearce, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “Federal law regulates when we are required to open bridges…

“The Washington State Department of Transportation works with the Coast Guard to create reasonable restrictions on marine openings during peak motor vehicle travel times to ease congestion when possible. About a decade ago WSDOT tried to get some limits on opening hours for the SR 529 Snohomish River Bridge. As Mark points out, many large vessels are only able to go under the open draw span at high tide, so the maritime community had a more compelling case to keep things as they are. Our request was denied.”

Have a question? Email us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence. Look for updates on the Street Smarts blog.

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