City officials did their best last week to put more lipstick on the pig, but this porker just ain’t getting any prettier.
We’re talking, of course, about the city’s proposed pedestrian bridge over Highway 305, better known now on the island as the “Bridge to Nowhere.” Last week, Bainbridge officials hosted a press conference to unveil seven artistic renderings of what the bridge might look like, and concepts ranged from arched spans made of timber or steel, to suspension and truss bridges (think Tacoma Narrows or an old railroad bridge, respectively).
Why we’re even at the preliminary design stage is a mystery for most folks.
As public awareness of the proposed project has spread, so has opposition grown to the Bridge to Nowhere. Critics include not only those islanders alarmed about the massive (and by that, we mean ugly) changes to the Highway 305 corridor to make way for the Sound to Olympic Trail, but also some of the residents in nearby neighborhoods who are supposed to be the ones to most benefit from the new span.
Indeed, it’s the question of necessity that’s created the sizable gap between the city and the public on the project.
When pressed, city officials admit they have no idea how many bikers or pedestrians would actually use the $3 million bridge. Details on exactly how much clearing and tree removal would be needed are also in short supply, much as they were before the chainsaws were fired up for clearing the first leg of the Sound to Olympic Trail.
The more we learn about this project, the more we wish the council would abandon its stubborn pursuit of it and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on designs and consultants.
According to one of the island’s most informed experts on non-motorized trails and facilities, the bridge idea “was more the product of city staff and one dedicated committee member than it was because of a proven need or an outpouring of public support.”
Very little study went into assessing who the users would be, he noted, or how people would actually use it. The city’s Non-Motorized Committee never had formal discussions about applying for the grant for the bridge, or the million dollars the city would have to contribute to get it built. Instead, the city’s share of $1 million would have been more than enough, some believe, to build out the entire island trail system (which currently is funded at a paltry $25,000 annually).
It’s no shock that the Bridge to Nowhere has become a political issue in the council races on the November ballot. We look forward to the day in January when a new council is seated, and perhaps the words of a more famous piggy are quoted when the plug gets pulled on this porker: “That’s all, folks!”