Kenmore bridge needs work, city needs cash

  • Written by Don Mann
Staff Photo/Don Mann. Sammamish River Bridge in Kenmore
There will be no tolling of the Sammamish River Bridge in Kenmore, at least in the immediate future. But at an October 22 meeting the city’s Transportation Benefit District (TBD) board discussed tolling and other funding options for the TBD as concerns for the aging bridge, further burdened with additional traffic after the implementation of 520 bridge tolling, continue to mount.

Prior to the meeting, city staff met with the King County Bridge Inspection group to discuss its recent inspection of the bridge across the river along 68th Ave. NE near where it becomes Juanita Drive NE.

Apparently it is two bridges, as there are two separate structures for north- and south-bound traffic. The younger “east” bridge’s condition is satisfactory.

The “west” bridge, constructed in 1938, is showing signs of wear and tear.

Currently the city is working with the county on a new load rating study, an update of the bridge monitoring plan, and additional analysis of the pilings and the superstructure (bridge deck and girders) in order to create a short-term maintenance plan.

The county is anticipated to provide a findings report during the first quarter of 2013. Once the information becomes available, staff will present the findings to the TBD at a public meeting.

While it is still not yet known when the west bridge will need to be replaced, the city has begun researching options for funding – and tolling is not the only option.

Federal grants, such as the “BRAC” grant, have traditionally funded the bulk of the cost of regional bridge replacements.

But according to Kenmore Public Information Officer Leslie Harris, there are no guarantees the city will be successful in obtaining them.

If the TBD board reconsiders tolling as a way to pay for the bridge, she said, a free pass or low toll would likely be considered for Kenmore residents and it would need to go to Kenmore voters for approval.

Meanwhile, in November the TBD board will hold a special meeting to discuss adopting a resolution to implement a $20 vehicle fee.

If passed, the resolution would not take effect for six months.

Revenue generated from the fee would help fund pavement preservation projects (overlays, repairs, etc.) throughout the city.

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