SULTAN — With grant money on the way, city leaders are looking forward to breaking ground on a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the confluence of the Sultan and Skykomish rivers.
“The city is thrilled to see this project move forward,” Sultan Mayor John Seehuus said. “This bridge will be such a tremendous asset for our community.”
The 627-foot bridge will run parallel to and independent of the U.S. 2 vehicle bridge. It will be placed on the north side, where there are public parks on either side of the Sultan River.
The 10-foot wide bridge will offer a vast improvement over the narrow path available to pedestrians going either direction over the two-lane vehicle bridge. That path is a mere 29 inches wide.
Some pedestrians using bicycles or wheelchairs opt for the traffic lane because of the tight squeeze, and because of the drop-offs in pavement at either end of the path.
“I’ve put a long stick with a red flag on the back of my wheelchair and crossed the bridge in the vehicle travel lanes before,” Sultan resident Dale Doornek said in a city grant application. “It makes the drivers mad, but I feel safer holding up traffic behind me than using the narrow and dangerous pathway on the existing bridge.”
Construction is slated to begin in the summer. Deep, drilled shaft foundations are designed to resist earthquakes and the scouring effects of the river. The bridge will take about a year to construct.
The $3.5 million project will be paid mostly from state and federal grants, grants coordinator Chris Hendrickson said. The city will chip in more than $1 million, drawn from fees paid by developers and real estate excise taxes.
The bridge will not only better connect pedestrians to both sides of the river, the mayor said, but also provide a potentially life-saving link if something were to happen to the existing U.S. 2 vehicle bridge, such as an earthquake. The vehicle bridge is more than 75 years old and considered functionally obsolete, meaning it wasn’t built for today’s traffic volumes or modern needs.
The pedestrian bridge also will accommodate new water and sewer lines, much like Everett’s Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge project.
“Sultan John” will move
Meanwhile, the project will also affect the iconic, 12-foot statue of “Sultan John” — a likeness of T’seul-Ted, for whom Sultan likely is named — located at Sultan River Park.
“The current plans are to relocate him, as he will need to be moved to accommodate the eastern bridge approach,” Hendrickson said. “He is in need of some renovations, so he will be transported to the city shop to be temporarily housed while a local artist performs repairs and restoration.”
The statue will be moved in the spring.
Renovation of the statue has long been discussed. The statue was made in the 1980s from wood and resin. Time, weather and vandals have taken their toll.
A committee of local volunteers and family of the late artist, Jerry Carter, are assisting with the effort.
Celebrated sculptor Kevin Pettelle is helping lead the work, having performed the last restoration of the statue in 1997.
“The restoration work would be similar to what was done then except that it’s more extensive,” Pettelle said.
Some parts need to be replaced. Cracks need to be filled. The total price tag will depend on exactly how the renovation work is approached, and how many donations arrive.
The nonprofit Sky Valley Arts Council is collecting the donations. Already, the Tulalip Tribes have donated $1,000 toward the moving effort.
Moving the statue takes careful planning and lots of equipment. Braces will need to be attached. Equipment must be able to tip the statue to get it into the city shed where work will be done.
“Any time you have a sculpture moved, especially when it’s top heavy, it gets really complex,” Pettelle said.
As for where the restored statue will be replaced, that’s yet to be decided — except that it won’t be in the exact spot it is now.
Up until last week , the volunteer group wasn’t sure when they’d start on the restoration project. Then news came of the pedestrian bridge.
Sultan’s bridge project is one of two local projects slated to get Federal Highway Administration dollars, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council, which funnels the money to meet local needs.
In Lynnwood, money is earmarked for engineering and design of a shared-use path project that will improve safety for bicyclists and other pedestrians on 44th Avenue West at the I-5 underpass. That grant is for $255,672.
The local projects are among a dozen on the Transportation Alternatives Program project list.
If there’s money left over, some of it could be spent on construction of the Lynnwood path project, estimated at $1.8 million. Trail projects in Arlington, Mountlake Terrace and unincorporated Snohomish County also are on a contingency list.
As part of the grant process, the public is able to comment on the Transportation Alternatives Program projects.
Comments can be sent in through Jan. 25, but the deadline for written comments is Jan. 4 to be included in a roundup given to regional council leaders. Learn more at www.psrc.org.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.
Help restore ‘Sultan John’
Tax-deductible donations to help restore the statue of T’seul-Ted can be made:
Mail: Mark checks for “Chief Sultan” and mail to Sky Valley Arts Council, P.O. Box 18, Sultan, WA 98294