Howarth Park bridge closed for emergency repairs

EVERETT — The Howarth Park pedestrian bridge, one of the last public beach access points in Everett, will be closed Thursday for emergency repairs.

The bridge work will take five or six months to complete. Because the bridge and beach were scheduled to be closed in the fall for Snohomish County’s Nearshore Beach Restoration Project, that means that the beach will be inaccessible until the spring of 2016.

The city’s contractor, KPFF Consulting Engineers, recently conducted a regular inspection on the 27-year-old bridge and found the steel beams were significantly rusted and corroded.

The firm is preparing a report for the city that advises closing the bridge for emergency repairs, said Paul Kaftanski, Everett’s director of Parks and Recreation.

“The right thing to do would be to close it now and not wait until the report arrives,” Kaftanski said.

“The problem will be when there’s a lot of weight on that structure,” he added. “We didn’t want to take a chance with it open for the summer.”

The city plans to design the fix and put the job out to bid as soon as possible. The city had been anticipating making some repairs to the bridge in the near future. The recent inspection accelerated the schedule, Kaftanski said.

The bridge is the only access to the beach on the far side of the BNSF Railway mainline.

The next-closest beach access points are to the south at Edgewater Beach in Mukilteo, which reopened April 15, and to the north at the Everett Avenue overpass, which leads to Port of Everett property and the trail to Pigeon Creek Beach.

The access to Pigeon Creek Beach was made more difficult in September when the railroad closed an underpass at Bond Street to prevent people from walking across the tracks to reach the trail.

At Howarth Park, signs were posted Wednesday alerting the public of the emergency closure.

Parks staff will periodically patrol the area to discourage anyone from climbing the fence to walk across the tracks to the beach, Kaftanski said. The tracks and right of way are private property the railway patrols.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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