Image courtesy of the City of Sultan
Image courtesy of the City of Sultan

A project to build a bridge for walkers and cyclists across the Sultan River has been awarded a $2.5 million grant.

The City of Sultan applied for the 2017-2021 Puget Sound Regional Council funds, along with more than five dozen other agencies, according to PSRC. The project scored 11th place on the list of recommendations the public was asked to comment on beginning in Nov. 9 and closing on Jan. 25. Funding is slated for release later this year.

“The city is thrilled to see this project move forward,” said Sultan Mayor John Seehuus in a city news release. “This bridge will be such a tremendous asset for our community, serving not only as a vital community connector, but also providing critical, life-saving access in the event that an earthquake or other natural disaster renders the existing highway bridge inoperative.”

The planned link will be 627 feet long and 10 feet wide, and built next to the U.S. Highway 2 bridge across the Sultan River.

The walkway will be wider than the existing bridge, divided by a small barrier from the busy roadway. Sultan city administrator Ken Walker said during the January State of the City address he has walked the route and, in some cases, felt worried about his safety.

Walker also called for one more push from the community at the meeting. He asked the public to voice their support for the project before the open comment period ended last month.

Hundreds of residents played a part in the lengthy process of securing funds for the bridge. They wrote letters and sent signatures to the Washington Legislature, according to the city. A few expressed skepticism in comments sent to the regional council.

Sultan resident Judy Heydrick wrote she questioned the city’s motive for seeking funds. Some reasons seemed to have changed over time. They may have depended on the audience, she wrote.

Most recently city officials “provided yet another rationale at an informal gathering” that an alternative route is needed for emergency vehicles if the highway bridge becomes impassable. She said that section was resurfaced last summer, and she feels it is in good shape.

“Some projects are more deserving than others of public funding and it is up to the PSRC to wisely distribute limited resources,” she wrote.

Newly elected Sultan City Councilmember Christina Sivewright wrote the project is imperative, addresses the city’s needs and at the same time enhances the community’s wellbeing.

Sivewright wrote the new bridge will be ADA compliant, promote healthy lifestyles and act as a economic community connector. It will provide safer routes for children walking to school who live west of the Sultan River, and it aligns with Snohomish County tourism plans, she wrote.

“This is a viable transportation alternative worth advocating for, I whole heartedly support this project,” Sivewright wrote.

Delores Green wrote her elderly mother regularly walks the bridge to get to the post office in Sultan. It is her mother’s way of getting exercise each day, “but I feel it is very dangerous.” She added the new bridge will also provide more parking options when there are events in town. Sultan resident Toni Reading wrote it could serve as an evacuation route in an emergency.

The Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board, of which Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers is president, approved $17.5 million in grants during its Jan. 25 meeting, according to the regional council. Projects that received the Transportation Alternative Program funds were in King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish counties.

Federal Highway Administration dollars fund TAP grants, according to the regional council. The money is to be used for regional, community-based transportation improvements, such as historic preservation of transportation assets and environmental mitigation.

Sultan will also put more than $1 million toward the project, according to the city. Impact and Real Estate Excise Tax fees contributed to the amount. The city estimates bridge construction will cost roughly $3.5 million.

A project design plan was completed in 2012, according to the city. It was funded by another roughly $417,000 regional council grant and a $100,000 allocation from the Legislature.

Work is expected to begin this summer, and take about a year to complete. When finished it will run next to the highway, but not attached to the structure, according to the city. It will connect Sportsman Park, west of Sultan, and River Park where Main Street intersects First Street in the city, west of downtown.