The grand opening celebration of the new SR 520 floating bridge is quickly approaching, but right now it's a plan to get rid of the old bridge that's causing controversy.
Kenmore city leaders say they were stunned to learned of the contractor's plan to deconstruct parts of the old 520 bridge at the Lakepointe industrial site in Kenmore.
"We were under the impression, at least early from what I'd heard, that all of the grinding and all that was going to be done on the lake and all we would get is a barge," said Mayor David Baker. "But we found out at a council meeting on March 14th is no, they're bringing big pieces of concrete out, they're going to break it all up to basketball size pieces, and then they're going to truck it out and it's going to be a nine month job."
That's something that didn't sit well with Baker or anyone else on city council.
Kenmore's city manager sent a letter to the contractor in charge of the SR 520 bridge contract letting them know exactly where the city stands on the issue.
The letter to Kiewit/General/Manson, of KGM, was sent on March 28th.
"The purpose of this letter is to advise you that KGM's proposed decommissioning of the old 520 bridge cannot be performed on the site," the city manager wrote.
He goes on to site the city's reason for saying no, citing a violation of the city's zoning code for that area and the fact that KGM has not submitted any applications for permits or approvals from the city.
Baker said there's a big environmental concern as well, because the city doesn't know enough about what toxins might be found in the old bridge.
"We know that cars go across the bridge with asbestos, from the brake pads, oil, and everything else," he said. "Yes, most of it goes into the lake, but a lot of it clings to the concrete and gets embedded in the concrete, so we're very concerned."
The letter concludes by wishing the contractor luck in finding another location.
A spokesperson for KGM released the following statement in response:
"Kiewit/General/Manson is disappointed and surprised by the City of Kenmore's letter. More than a year ago, we began discussions with the city about our plans for decommissioning at the Kenmore site. They gave no indication that this would be problematic or that additional permitting would be required. We are currently reviewing our options."
City officials say they discussed KGM conducting bridge construction work and storing construction materials at the site, but maintain nothing about decommissioning the old bridge at that location was ever mentioned.
"Our answer right now is now," said Baker. "And we're pretty emphatic about it."