MAY 19, 1997

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Opinion

"The Bridges of Gridlock County"

Novelty Bridge After requesting a SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act) checklist prepared for the King County Department of Transportation regarding the planned Novelty Bridge replacement, I learned the following: The demolition and replacement of the 124th St. bridge is scheduled to begin next year and take 18 months.
   The car-volume study used in the report was from 1995 and stated that an average of 7,744 cars used the 77-year-old bridge on a daily basis. (I think it's safe to say we can now increase that number.)
   The report showed that the bridge is "fatally flawed" with "many truss members and connections damaged due to rusting and pitting." I agree something needs to be done. I don't agree with what will be done.
   Modifications to the existing structure were not accepted because it "would radically alter the appearance of the bridge." (The picture of the new one does not look like the old one, either.) Building a new bridge in close proximity and leaving the old one up for pedestrians, bicyclists, and fishing was defeated because changing the alignment of the approach roadway and removal of the lead-based paint that covers the current one would be too costly.
   I have to wonder if this study would read differently if it were referring to a bridge in an affluent area. After all, it took only four months to repair the monstrous Magnolia Bridge.
   Instead, we "Valley People" need to start planning our 18 months of tailgate parties ... along the two-mile backups we will be in ... as we herd ourselves home over the Duvall Bridge. (Hmm, aren't they planning repairs on that one next year, too?)

Collete Reams, Lake Marcel