Enumclaw chamber director leads effort to revise White River Bridge repair schedule

The Washington State Department of Transportation has again revised the closure schedule for the White River bridge.

The White River Bridge was closed April 4 for about a week when an inspection found the overhead structural damage.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has again revised the closure schedule for the White River bridge.

The bridge is now set to be closed sometime in the spring, possibly in April, although the department has reopened discussions with school districts about the closure schedule.

It is currently unknown whether the bridge will be closed during the week or weekends, although business owners at a Nov. 5 meeting overwhelming supported closing the bridge during the week.

WSDOT’s decision to re-revise the closure schedule came after the meeting between the department, Enumclaw’s Chamber of Commerce, local business owners and Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) at the Enumclaw library.

Business owners on the Plateau complained to WSDOT after the first closure schedule was published, which called for three consecutive weekend closures in December.

WSDOT Northwest Region Administrator Lorena Eng told the crowd of 80 the first schedule was published as the department was talking with the chamber and other businesses. The closure schedule was released to the public before it went through a department review process.

After receiving complaints from the public, the schedule was revised with one weekend closure at the end of November, another in December and two in January.

Still, many business owners argued they would lose much-needed business if the bridge was closed at all during the holiday season

Businesses like the Crystal Mountain Resort were especially vocal at the meeting, saying they couldn’t survive another financial hit like last year, which was the worst ski season on record due to minimal snowfall in the mountains.

Pressure from chamber members for a re-revised schedule prompted Chambers Director Troy Couch to call Roach and arrange the meeting.

Safety risks

While the bridge is completely safe to drive on and its condition is not currently deteriorating, there are still risks to postponing the repairs, said Travis Phelps, WSDOT communications manager.

One risk to postponing the repairs is there are more potential days when the bridge could sustain damage, Phelps said. Damage risks include the Plateau’s infamous east wind, he said, as strong gusts could potentially damage the bridge.

While the bridge is not being repaired, WSDOT will continue to conduct monthly inspections on the bridge. Phelps said it is unlikely the bridge will be closed during these inspections, but the DOT may have to reduce traffic to one lane.

Economic impact

Postponing the repairs also means footing a heftier bill, Phelps said.

Between the costs of sending teams out monthly to inspect the bridge, WSDOT is discussing how much it will cost to postpone the repairs with the contractor.

In total, the bill may increase somewhere in the ballpark of $200,000 and $250,000 dollars. This cost could be cut if the contractor is allowed to work during the week, Phelps said, instead of having to set up and take down equipment over multiple weekends.

However, a quarter of a million is small change, local business owners said, compared to how much money they would lose if the bridge was closed during the holiday season.

Couch estimated the Plateau business community stood to lose around $1 million in various revenue streams, although he said his estimate was conservative.

More in News

Taxing district was independent, now part of city government

In a move that was philosophically opposed by a pair of council members, the city of Enumclaw has taken control of the local Transportation Benefit District. The move may not be noticeable to the general public, as the collection and distribution of money should be unchanged. Also, the people controlling the dollars and cents remain the same.

Wilbanks wins close Buckley race

It took a month, but Luke Wilbanks finally knows he’ll be occupying a seat on the Buckley City Council.

Smooth holiday travel requires planning, patience | Department of Transportation

No matter what your holiday plans, being prepared for winter conditions and holiday traffic will help make your trip smoother. The Washington State Department of Transportation urges all travelers to “know before you go” and plan ahead for smoother travel.

Pierce County burn ban lifted | Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Update

The weather may be getting colder, but burn bans have been called for multiple counties due to deteriorating air quality.

Local authors publish their first novels

Sometimes, you just can’t get an idea out of your head. For two local authors, this certainly has been the case. Since they were kids, James Peet of Enumclaw and Tommy Rice of Bonney Lake had some ideas in their heads, ones that never quite left them, even as they grew older, got jobs, and settled down with their wives and kids of their own.

Scammers posing as the State Supreme Court Clerk | Office of the Attorney General

Scammers are posing as the Washington State Supreme Court Clerk to call Washingtonians to demand money and threaten arrest. The fraudulent calls have so far targeted individuals with Hispanic last names.

Enumclaw’s Van Hulse to compete in national music showcase

Erik Van Hulse, who also goes by his stage name Siboh Nisoh, has been working toward this big break for almost as long as he can remember.

Kiwanis honor four as Students of the Month

Members of the Buckley Kiwanis Club honored a trio of “Students of the Month” during an Nov. 16 gathering.

Pepper addresses ‘false’ recall charges in community meeting

The meeting, held at the Black Diamond library, was a chance for voters to have “an opportunity to hear from both sides before they decide to sign,” the recall petition, Pepper wrote in an announcement for the meeting.

Most Read