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Saving two SR 410 underpasses a tall call for councilman

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By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

Councilman David Bowen has lived his entire life in Bonney Lake and he is trying to save a little bit of the old days for the future.

Bowen asked the state Department of Transportation to consider saving two cattle crossings that run under state Route 410 a few hundred yards east of Sunset Chiropractic and Wellness Center at 22015 SR 410. The councilman hopes the crossings could be used in the future for people to walk under the highway at transit stops.

“We have a chance to save these and I think it should be done,” Bowen said. “In the future it will look like a stroke of genius.”

The underpasses are about 300 feet apart and known only to area residents, old timers and wildlife.

The crossings are 5-feet wide and 7-feet high, and reinforced with concrete on all sides including the floors.

At one time Bowen said there were four underpasses, including one at 214th Avenue East and another near where the Mazatlan restaurant is today.

The underpass at 214th was 7-feet wide and 7-feet high. It was used as a transit underpass by residents when the park and ride was located at the corner where Rite Aid is today. People would get off the bus in the evening on the south side of SR 410 and cross the highway using the underpass to get to the park and ride lot.

Bowen kept that underpass clean and painted.

“I'd paint out the graffiti and clean it up every so often,” Bowen said. “These were considered a community asset then. They were never used much for cattle.”

The crossings were put in when the highway was constructed. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Bowen said residents thought the underpasses could be used as bomb shelters in case of a nuclear attack.

“People started to gather sandbags during the Cuban missile crises,” Bowen said.

The underpass at 214th was filled in during the early 1980s after a local newspaper did an article on Bowen and the crossing.

A DOT employee told Bowen once the crossing was published in the newspaper they no longer had “plausible deniability.” Bowen dug the crossing out once, but DOT brought in a dump truck.

“They told me, ‘You won't dig this out,'” Bowen said.

The underpass near Mazatlan was filled when the restaurant was built.

When Bowen contacted DOT in an effort to save the last two underpasses, he was told the crossing would have to be widened to about 13 feet for safety. Bowen reported to the City Council that DOT said the city would have to come up with about $1 million to save the underpasses.

“This would really help with transit crossings,” Bowen said. “No one crosses at 214th. There's too much traffic. This would be the only place people could cross without crossing the highway. They (DOT) don't see it. It's a nuisance to them and they think I'm being odd.”

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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