A unanimous vote from Kenmore city council members will move the controversial demolition of the SR 520 bridge out of their city and onto Lake Washington. Environmentalists say it's far from a victory.
Contractor Kiewit/General/Manson, or KGM, had been locked in a legal dispute with the City of Kenmore over where the old bridge would be taken apart, after Kenmore city leaders said the work could not be done at the Lakepointe Industrial Site.
The settlement agreement approved on Monday says KGM will not break down concrete from the bridge in Kenmore. Instead, that demolition work will take place on barges located on Lake Washington. The material would be transported in the barges to Kenmore, where it would then be directly transferred to trucks and transported out of the city.
The agreement says that at no time will the concrete material touch the ground in Kenmore. It also sets strict rules regarding work hours, noise levels, dust control, and truck weight limits.
On Monday, Kenmore city leaders who voted 6-0 in favor of the deal. They said they felt it was the best possible outcome for Kenmore.
But neighbors and environmentalists who spoke at the meeting are now worried about what this will mean for Lake Washington.
"It may be a victory for Kenmore, slightly but not really," said Janet Hays. "It's a disaster for Lake Washington, I mean on a whole. The city claims to look out for Lake Washington to be a steward to the lake because we're privileged to live on it, but we have never seen evidence of that."
Hays and many other are worried about possible toxins contained in debris from the old bridge.
"All cars prior to 1990 had asbestos in their brakes," said Patrick O'Brien. "That debris from the bridge should be put in a landfill that's contained, a sealed landfill because it has asbestos in it."
Even Representative Gerry Pollett expressed his concerns about environmental impacts to the lake. He attended Monday's council meeting in Kenmore and spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"We are going to scrutinize and scrutinize heavily the notion that KGM, the contractor, can do this work in the middle of Lake Washington," he told the crowd. "I'm very concerned about that. I know that's not a determination the City of Kenmore is making. It's a state issue, and I intend to be making sure we scrutinize it heavily."
KGM spokesperson Tom Janssen issued the following statement in response to Monday's Kenmore City Council vote:
"Kiewit/General/Manson has reached an agreement with the City of Kenmore on the SR 520 bridge demolition. We will drop our legal appeal and will follow the terms of the agreement including dust and noise control, work hour and weight limitations, and monitoring of environmental concerns."
Kenmore's city manger told council members the demolition work will run from now through the end of the year. Under the settlement agreement, the work must be done on barges within 1,000 feet of the new bridge.