While the bridge that fell into the Skagit River last month was not deemed “structurally deficient,” the collapse is drawing attention to the 135 state bridges that are in that more serious category.
The latest response in the Legislature is from Rep. Hans Zeiger, a Puyallup Republican, and a bipartisan group of legislators. They introduced a bill today to fast-track the repair or replacement of deficient bridges.
“Structurally deficient” simply means that a bridge is in need of repair or replacement.
For those bridges, transportation officials would be allowed to skip some of the steps in the bidding process, as they already do when an emergency damages a highway, and also would skip an environmental assessment or impact statement.
Zeiger is in a good position to be heard on transportation changes because he’s one of the Republicans willing to vote for a gas-tax measure to fund road projects, a group that is also demanding reforms in how the state spends transportation money.
Democratic Reps. Brian Blake of Aberdeen, Dean Takko of Longview and Roger Freeman of Federal Way all signed on to the bill along with many minority Republicans.
Zeiger said in a statement he’s working on changes to the proposal with the Department of Transportation, and he drew attention to a local bridge:
Zeiger said he is concerned about the condition of the Meridian Street Puyallup River Bridge in his own 25th Legislative District. “The Meridian Street Puyallup River Bridge was built in 1925 and has a structural sufficiency rating of two out of one hundred. While this bridge is prioritized for replacement, the Washington State Department of Transportation does not expect to complete its work on a new bridge until late 2015. We cannot afford to wait that long. It has already been two-and-a-half years since northbound truck traffic was restricted to the bridge’s right lane.”