Slide Show: Ceremony marks re-opening of Kummer Bridge between Enumclaw and Black Diamond

After months of detouring through the Green Valley countryside, motorists against can travel a direct route between Enumclaw and Black Diamond. The Kummer Bridge, a 77-year-old span over the Green River, was opened following a Friday afternoon ceremony that featured state and local dignitaries, WSDOT officials, the Enumclaw High marching band and more.

The King County Fair Bear and the Enumclaw High marching band walked across the Green River Gorge Bridge during reopening ceremonies today.

After months of detouring through the Green Valley countryside, motorists against can travel a direct route between Enumclaw and Black Diamond.

The Kummer Bridge, a 77-year-old span over the Green River, was opened following a Friday afternoon ceremony that featured state and local dignitaries, WSDOT officials, the Enumclaw High marching band and more.

The bridge, a link in state Route 169, had been closed since November. A slowly-shifting hillside was to blame, as gradual ground movement convinced authorities with the Washington State Department of Transportation that a major fix was needed to keep the structure safe.

The project was completed a few days ahead of schedule and several million dollars under budget. When WSDOT closed the span, $15 million in federal emergency money was appropriated. Lorena Eng, regional administrator for the Department of Transportation, said the total cost was closer to $10 million.

Eng kicked off Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony by explaining that 13,000 cubic yards of soil had to be removed to accommodate the repair work. At the heart of the project, she said, was the drilling of 57 vertical shafts, each 6 feet in diameter and up to 100 feet deep; each was filled with concrete, creating a barrier against the shifting south bank of the gorge.

“The hillside here has been moving,” Eng said, equating the situation to “a 5-mile landslide.”

Enumclaw Mayor John Wise said completion of the project is good news on several fronts. The seven-month detour around the bridge impacted police and fire functions, he said, and added minutes to emergency vehicles headed to the Enumclaw hospital.

The economic impacts of the bridge closure have been well publicized and were noted by Wise.

“Our businesses in Enumclaw are hurting and one of the reasons, they tell me, is the bridge,” he said.

Wise also noted that the detour has simply been inconvenient for local commuters who work in the Eastside communities to the north.

Black Diamond Mayor Howard Botts noted his longtime appreciation for the Kummer Bridge.

“I’ve used this bridge all my life,” he said, recalling high school days when he made the bridge crossing twice a day.

He, too, noted the economic importance of getting the highway back in order.

“This is an important piece of highway,” Botts said. “Merchants all along the way are glad it’s open.”

State Rep. Chris Hurst also crossed the bridge on a near-daily basis before his retirement from the Black Diamond Police Department.

Hurst dredged up lyrics from a Joni Mitchell classic when he noted “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” That semtiment applies to the Kummer Bridge, he said, because it was easy to take the direct highway route for granted.

“This is a very important day from an emergency services standpoint,” he said.

State Sen. Pam Roach reminded everyone of two entities that made the whole thing happen. First is the taxpayers whose money was spent on the project, she said; second is the workers who brought the project to completion quicker than anticipated.

All along, WSDOT officials have maintained they would meet the construction deadline, which called for the bridge to be open before the Fourth of July holiday. Two weeks ago, Transportation representatives were estimating that the opening might not occur until this week.

Mayors Wise and Botts made a ceremonial snip of a ribbon with a pair of oversized scissors, then hopped into a bright red 1969 Mercury Cougar for a ceremonial first trip across the bridge. Shortly after, WSDOT crews began removing barriers, preparing for a full opening later Friday afternoon.

More in News

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Buckley Council race gets recount; results due Dec. 6

The closest general election outcome in Pierce County was found in Buckley, where a razor-thin difference in a City Council race forced a recount by the Pierce County Elections Department.

Most Read