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State may fund Kingston bridge

Naomi Maasberg of Stillwaters Environmental Education Center watches water gush from the Carpenter Creek estuary into Apple Tree Cove. An effort has been underway since 2001 to replace the narrow culvert with a bridge. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Naomi Maasberg of Stillwaters Environmental Education Center watches water gush from the Carpenter Creek estuary into Apple Tree Cove. An effort has been underway since 2001 to replace the narrow culvert with a bridge.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

After nearly a decade of setbacks, the state may fund a project to bridge the mouth of Kingston’s Carpenter Creek Estuary.

Gov. Chris Gregoire included $2.7 million in her proposed 2010 supplemental budget to replace a culvert that funnels water between the slough and Appletree Cove underneath South Kingston Road.

The torrent of water is popular with boogie boarders in the summer but it’s bad for salmon that use the estuary for refuge. The more natural water flow would benefit salmon and prevent the buildup of sediment.

The project has been in planning since 2001 but funding has been illusive, County Commissioner Steve Bauer said Wednesday.

“It seems like every time this gets close to happening, it slips through the fingers,” Bauer said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Design work has been completed for the project, which would remove the 12-foot-wide culvert and span the estuary opening with a 70-foot bridge. The wider opening would slow the tidewater that rushes in and out of the slough each day.

The county had been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the bridge. Bauer said the Corps was ready to start work on several occasions but the project was postponed by bad weather, a lack of funding or competing projects. One of those times was in 2005, when the Corps shifted its resources to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. More recently the project lost out on federal stimulus dollars.

Bauer said he’s encouraged that Gregoire sees the bridge as worth funding.

“We’re just thrilled that there’s the potential that we can get this high priority project underway,” Bauer said.

The Carpenter Creek bridge has been championed by local groups including Stillwaters Environmental Education Center, which has a campus bordering the estuary. Stillwaters Administrative Director Naomi Maasberg said she’s ready to rally support to push the project through the Legislature.

“What we’ll need is a lot of community support, which we had in the past,” Maasberg said. “But instead of lobbying the federal government, we’ll be lobbying the state.”

While the Army Corps of Engineers needed the county to provide a matching grant, the state allocation could cover the whole cost of the project, allowing the county to move forward immediately.

With designs in place, the county would be ready to permit the project and bid it out. If state funding was approved, the project could break ground in 2010, Bauer said.

“It’s basically shovel ready.”

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