Opinion

Bridge alternatives taking shape

In July, the King County Road Services Division hosted a public meeting on replacing the 97-year-old Mount Si Bridge. I want to personally thank the community for their interest in this project. That meeting was well attended and we continue to hear from the public. We value all of the input we have received.

At the July meeting, I was struck by the fact that although individual viewpoints and preferences may differ, we share the same goal: improving the safety and reliability of the Mount Si Bridge.

Some themes we heard from our panelists and members of the public were: build a long-lasting new bridge with lanes for vehicles and pedestrians; protect the natural environment and the wildlife; minimize the impact on private property; preserve the history of the old bridge; and do everything possible to protect the rural character and beauty of the Mount Si area.

As we head into the end of the year, King County is wrapping up its preliminary research and analysis for this project. At this point, we plan to select a preferred alignment alternative for the new bridge and notify the community around the first of the year.

If you attended the last meeting, you'll know that alternatives 1, 3, and 5 have been dropped from further consideration due to their severe impacts to private property and environmentally sensitive areas. We continue to explore alignments 2, 4 and 4a.

At the request of the community, we are conducting traffic analyses in the area. In September and October, King County evaluated the existing traffic patterns, speeds and flow on and around the bridge, including North Bend Way. We are also reviewing safety measures that could be implemented as part of the project.

Once a preferred alignment is selected, we will move forward on a bridge type, size and location report that will include additional engineering studies. Our engineering consultant will explore feasible bridge types. When we have several potential bridge types identified, King County will host another public meeting to gather feedback from the community. This meeting will most likely occur next summer. You can receive up-to-date information about the project at www.metrokc.gov-/kcdot/roads/projects/mountsi.

A summary of our public outreach efforts and comments from the public have been assembled into a booklet that began arriving recently to all those who attended and signed in at the April and July meetings. If you are not on our sign-in lists and would like to receive the summary report, please contact Barbara deMichele by phone at (206) 263-3792, or e-mail at barbara.demichele@metrokc.gov.

King County is committed to working closely with the community on this critical project. I have told my staff that we must have a full understanding of what is important to the community with this project as we design and build the bridge. Comments on the Mount Si Bridge Replacement Project are welcome at any time, not just at public meetings or at key decision points. Please help us build the best bridge possible by staying informed and keeping in touch.

Linda Dougherty is the manager of the county Department of Transportation's Road Services Division.

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