The closure of the Spiketon Bridge in Buckley is having an impact on neighbors and emergency responders in unincorporated Pierce County, causing traffic delays and reportedly increasing first responder response times.
“The detour that people are supposed to take takes them all the way up to (State Route) 410 and then all the way back down, and it adds at least another 10 to 15 minutes. People don’t want to do that,” said neighbor Ashley Wright.
The bridge connects Buckley and Wilkeson. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently shut it down because it is unsafe and didn’t plan to reopen the roadway until 2022.
WSDOT says it is now looking at options to possibly repair the bridge sooner after hearing concerns from first responders and residents in the area.
Wright said she and other neighbors have seen an increase in traffic on Lower Burnett Road East in Buckley because of the bridge closure.
“The road is going to fall apart. It wasn’t built to be a highway,” said Wright. “I’ve got two little kids. They’re three and four. They just started riding their bikes, and I can’t let them ride their bikes anymore. We can’t go out on our walks every day. I’ve got neighbors that almost got hit checking their mail.”
Claudia Bingham-Baker, a spokesperson for WSDOT, says they have ordered signs to try to keep people off Lower Burnett Road East.
The detour is reportedly slowing up emergency responders. A brush fire destroyed a home in Buckley on Sunday night. East Pierce Fire tweeted at WSDOT saying, “Spiketon Bridge closure makes a long response even longer.”
“I’ve lived out here all of my life. Every second counts with the fire. Believe me every second counts,” said Linda Youmans.
For neighbors on Lower Burnett Road East, the bridge has changed their way of life.
Bingham-Baker said WSDOT has been in communication with the White River School District as school bus drivers have had issues driving on Munday Loss Road, the detour in place for the bridge closure.
“It’s horrible; the whole thing is horrible,” said Cori Osborn, a school bus driver who says parents and kids are having to wait longer for the school bus, and the new detour route is difficult. “Our buses have a hard time coming up Mundy Loss Road and making a right.”
Bingham-Baker said WSDOT did not have conversations with neighbors about the detour impacts before the closure of the bridge. They are now planning to do community outreach.
Neighbors met with Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn) for answers Monday night.
“I get plenty of people telling me why we can’t do things. I need you to tell me how we can make this happen next year,” he said
Fortunato says he’s pressing transportation leaders to come up with a fix even if it’s a temporary bridge.
“If we can make it an emergency repair that accelerates things,” he said.
Neighbors here say the meeting was important.
“If you don’t speak up, it’s not going to change,” said Wright. “I don’t want to deal with this for the next four years.”