Editorial: City promotes bridge planning

The city of Oak Harbor doesn’t have a lot of influence in the Legislature, but at least it’s trying to make its voice heard. In 2011, pending council approval, a city contingent will go to Olympia to ask that planning begin for the possible failure of the Deception Pass Bridge.

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Capt. Gerral David, who recently moved on to another position, lent his support to the idea. That’s progress. When the city and Navy work together their combined voice is strong.

Other voices are needed, however. Island County should jump aboard, as should the Regional Transportation Benefit Authority, which recommends projects and disperses money approved by the state. The communities of Anacortes, Coupeville and Langley should join in to show unanimous regional support for bridge planning.

There is no need to immediately replace the historic and beautiful Deception Pass Bridge. Washington State Department of Transportation officials say it is well maintained and even though it just turned 75 years of age, it has many more years of service ahead of it. Exactly how many they can’t say, and doubters wonder if such old steel might give way unexpectedly one day. All should agreed that the bridge’s days are numbered and plans should be available should the worst happen.

The most time consuming part of any expensive construction project is the process leading up to construction. They talked about the first Deception Pass Bridge for more than 30 years before it was actually built. In Seattle, they’ve been trying to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct since before the Nisqually Earthquake of 2001. We’re almost certain to have another big earthquake before we have a viaduct replacement.

The next bridge to Whidbey Island doesn’t have to be at Deception Pass. Start studying the issue now, pick a site, design a bridge and be ready to build soon after a disaster strikes. That’s called preparedness, and we must be prepared to maintain our vital land link to the mainland.

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