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

both ends.

"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

bridge operable.

"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

traveled street."

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

(206) 296-8829.

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