Letter: Replacing aging bridge needs to remain an option


As the writer of the advertisement published in this newspaper, I want to thank John Bjoge for reading the article and writing a response letter to the editor.

John, it is far from a joke, but should be taken very seriously.

Like humans, bridges, cars and other items have a limited life.

It is obvious that you did not comprehend the message in the article. If nothing is done, just inspecting and painting, the bridge will fail perhaps tonight or in the next 30 or even 40 years.

Its failure cannot be predicted with any accuracy. If we allow it to fail catastrophically, it will create a huge problem for all island residents.

The ferry system will be overwhelmed even with an extra boat or two. It may take a few days just to get a vehicle reservation on a vessel.

The residents would be without a road on or off the island for two to three years.

The message in the article is this writer is offering an option.

Instead of waiting till the bridge fails catastrophically, he is offering a design concept where the residents will be without this road for less than seven days.

The regimen is the new bridge must be build on top of the existing old bridge and in the same location. Isn’t it worth a consideration to be without a road for less than seven days or two without a road for possibly over 900 days if we wait till it fails catastrophically?

If this writer is successful in persuading the state decision makers to do this, hasn’t he done a major favor for all of the island residents?

If there is a “value” like $200,000 per day for road access, then the argument to replace it before it fails catastrophically is much more compelling. That value is more than 100 times more expensive to wait until it fails. It will even exceed the construction costs for a new bridge. One can debate the value per day but not the fact that it has value, be it more or less than the suggested value.

What concerns me and others is the corrosion that is hidden as it nibbles away on a critical pin/bolt or other hidden item, and that process has been going on for over 83 years.

How much of the pin/bolt is left and there are thousands installed in this bridge?

There is no redundancy in this design. If a major pin or bolt fails, the total bridge fails, similar to the Skagit River Bridge.

Joseph C. Coomer

Oak Harbor