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Meadowbrook Bridge to lose two-lane status
SNOQUALMIE _ The historic Meadowbrook Bridge will soon
be able to carry a full load once the county implements some
much-needed improvements to the 79-year-old bridge.
Representatives from the King County Department of
Transportation told the Snoqualmie City Council
last week that its plans to convert the two-lane bridge to a single-lane
thoroughfare produced the best outcome for a relatively small price.
The design for the roughly $3.9-million project is expected to be
completed in about eight months with construction slated for 2003, said
Bill Oakes, a King County supervising engineer.
"Without any improvements [the bridge] can probably endure for
several more years," he said. "But it's reaching the end of its serviceable
life, primarily in the approach timbers. It's showing severe signs of aging."
Much of the funding for the bridge, which is located on
Meadowbrook Way, will likely be provided through a grant from the Federal Highway
Administration. Oakes said the county anticipates it will receive $2.5
million for the project, leaving the county with a $1.6-million bill. However,
Oakes said the county probably won't do some seismic work to the
foundation of the bridge that was in the original plan, which would reduce the price
tag by another $800,000.
According to the King County engineer, the best way to remove
the current weight restriction from the bridge would be to change the
19-foot wide, two-lane bridge into a single lane bridge with stop signals at
"It's fairly viable with no major delays at either end of the
bridge," Oakes said. "Traffic projections
for 2030 [are] 2,300 cars per day, and even if we're off, a single-lane bridge
would function fairly well."
The roadway over the bridge would also be repaved and the
timber approaches will be replaced with concrete. What won't change, however,
is the bridge's 79-year-old steel archway and pedestrian walkway.
"It's going to remain with the historical character and that's
important to us," said Snoqualmie City Administrator Gary Armstrong. "If
money and funding were available, we'd prefer it to be a two-lane bridge
but it's better to have an improvement done than nothing at all."
The county held three public meetings in October and December of
1996 and December 1997 to gather community input on the options it was
considering for the Meadowbrook Bridge.
The choices included tearing down the bridge, opening the bridge to
pedestrian and bicycle traffic only, repairing the bridge and keeping it as
a two-lane road or reconstructing the bridge and installing a new structure.
"The sentiment was don't close the bridge," Oakes said of the public
hearings. "They said they could live with the one-lane option or they wanted
the bridge completely replaced."
Dave DeMartini, the owner of a business just a few feet away from
the bridge, agreed that the community's main concern was keeping the
"If they did close it off, it would be an inconvenience to the people
who live on the other side of the bridge," he said. "And this is a heavily
The county's rehabilitation solution should add another 60 years
of useful life to the bridge. After that, Oakes said the county could
decide whether to implement the more costly option of reconstructing the
overpass, which would restore the bridge's two-lane status.
Within the next month or so, the county will pursue an interlocal
agreement with the City of Snoqualmie, who has jurisdiction over a portion
of the bridge. Oakes said that the county would not seek any monetary
support from Snoqualmie. Instead, they would ask for assistance in securing city
permits such as the shoreline, clearing and grading permits.
During the four to six months of construction, Oakes said that
traffic would be directed through an undetermined route. According to
the county's traffic studies, the detour should add only about eight extra
minutes to a motorist's commute. Currently, about 1,600 cars use the
bridge each day during the summer and 1,800 cars during the school year.
To see a copy of the plan, call Supervising Engineer Bill Oakes at