Friday, June 15, 2012

Saying farewell to the SR 529 Ebey Slough Bridge

by guest blogger Erica Taylor

Although its service may have gone unnoticed by many who fly by the little steel bridge in the roar of I-5 traffic, those commuting from Marysville and Everett have appreciated the SR 529 Ebey Slough bridge for 86 wonderful years. From 1927 to mid-2012 the bridge has stood slightly to the east of what is now I-5 spanning the Ebey Slough. 

What makes this little bridge so great? Maybe you always take I-5 to get where you need to go. I always do. Well, when construction on the Ebey Slough bridge started in 1925, there was no easy way to travel between Everett and Marysville (at least not without a boat) and there certainly was no I-5. When it opened in 1927, the swing-span bridge had one 11-foot lane in each direction, was the pinnacle of technology and was a revolution for transportation. The bridge could swing open to let marine traffic through and then close to allow drivers to commute north and south. The two sleepy little towns of Marysville and Everett were now connected to each other and to the rest of the state. Commerce boomed and the towns thrived.

Eighty-six years later, the hustle and bustle of these not-so-sleepy towns made this little steel bridge seem out of date and inefficient for modern users. The bridge was still important, but instead of smoothing out the commute, it was beginning to clog it up. So, in the summer of 2010, we began construction on a new Ebey Slough Bridge. The new bridge is taller – meaning no more pesky bridge openings – wider – meaning less congestion and more room for today’s bigger cars – and is more user-friendly for bicyclists and pedestrians.  

With the new bridge now half open to drivers, crews are ready to deconstruct the old bridge. To honor and officially retire the old bridge, we gathered Thursday, June 14, with city officials from Marysville and Everett, the Marysville Historical Society, bridge tenders, and families of some of the first people to work on the old bridge. Everyone shared stories of heroics, love and service, and bid a fond farewell to the bridge that served the community so well for so long.

Robert Rasmussen Jr (left) and four generations of
Rasmussens were there to walk across the bridge one last time.
While all the stories were special and meaningful in their own way, Robert Rasmussen Jr. shared some of the most touching and emotional memories. His father, Robert Rasmussen, helped build the bridge and was the first bridge tender when it opened in 1927. When Robert Jr. came home after fighting in World War II, he went straight to the bridge to see his dad at work.  After being apart for several years, the two were reconnected on the bridge that held so many memories for both.
Now that we’ve celebrated the life of the old bridge and given it a proper farewell, we’re looking forward to the future and welcoming the new Ebey Slough bridge into an equally memorable long life of service.

View more photos of the farewell event.

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