From Mayor Bill Pugh:
Something momentous happened last week for Sumner. Did you notice? Likely not, unless you watch Pierce County meetings. Pierce County approved their portion of funding ($4.26 million) to replace the Stewart Road Bridge. It’s such a simple sentence that carries a 20+ year history.
You see, back in the 1990s, Pierce County identified this corridor as a major east-west route. That’s when the area around Stewart Road was unincorporated Pierce County. Around 2000, they asked Sumner to annex it, drawing up an agreement for how our two organizations would share the costs of improving it.
This funding fulfills that agreement, 20 years later. There was a whole bunch of stuff during that time, including a procedural error on the County’s side, Sumner continually bringing this topic up with new administrations, etc., etc. The important point is that the leaders today pushed to honor their commitment, and we truly appreciate it.
Replacing that bridge has become even more important than it was in the 1990s. Not only is it the last choke-point for traffic, but it also chokes the river’s flow beneath it. The new four-lane bridge will be higher and free-span the water, letting the river meander where it needs to go, improving the health of salmon runs and reducing our risk of flooding. In fact, this bridge is one of our four White River Restoration projects. The new bridge will also include a separated trail to help connect the Sumner Link Trail to the Interurban for non-vehicular access for recreation and commuting.
We still need more funding to go into construction, but the County’s funding helps strengthen our other asks for funding in grants and the upcoming State Legislature.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness) and the flurry of the holidays pass by, please pause to appreciate this moment. It’s a big step forward for our region, both in transportation and the environment. I appreciate our staff persisting through many hoops to get this funding and keep this project on track. Sane people would have given up long ago! At the same time, I also have to thank County Executive Bruce Dammeier and Council Chair Doug Richardson for their leadership on the County’s end as well as all the councilmembers who approved this funding. Partnership and collaboration make all the difference.