King County starts task force to solve 'road and bridge crisis'

There are 16 different structurally deficient bridges in King County.
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ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Just off Issaquah Hobart road is a small bridge, which spans Fifteen Mile Creek. It's so small, many drivers may not know they're even driving over it. But Jim Markus says it has a big problem.

"The timber is beginning to rot," saidĀ King County Road Engineer, who pointed at the the problems on the nearly 40-year-old span. He acknowledges it is one of 16 different structurally deficient bridges in King County, and says it is at risk if the creek swells and weakens the support structure.

"We would be concerned if we get a big flood," he said.

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Markus also says, at a cost of $3 milion to $4 million, there is no money to replace it.

"We don't have the resources necessary," admittedĀ King County Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi, who says the County's road funding has been decreased due to annexations, and voter approved initiatives.

He's now chairing a task force, made up of elected officials, and transportation stakeholders, to try and come up with solutions to the road and bridge "crisis." King County Executive Dow Constantine, and King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert called for the creation of the group.

It met for the first time on Wednesday, at the Mercer Island Community Center. Five more meeting are scheduled, with the last in January of 2016. No option is off the table, including perhaps seeking some form of a new levy to pay for rural road and bridge repair. There are 181 bridges within King County jurisdiction, and Taniguchi says without a solution, the future is bleak.

"We're on track to perhaps close 2, 3 bridges a year, for the next 25 years," he said.