Why is Howarth Park beach access in Everett still delayed?
EVERETT — There’s good news and bad news about getting to the beach at Howarth Park this spring.
The good news is that the pedestrian bridge that provides park users access to the beach off of E. Mukilteo Boulevard is scheduled to re-open in May, approximately one year after its emergency closure for repairs.
The bad news for beach fans?
The beach is due to become off limits some time in 2016 as part of the county’s Nearshore Restoration Project. The project is an effort to benefit juvenile salmon and forage fish by supplementing the nearshore habitat with finer sediment and improving the wetland environments along the beach.
In the meantime, the next nearest beach access points are at Edgewater Beach in Mukilteo and the Everett Avenue overpass to Port of Everett property and Pigeon Creek Beach.
People may be surprised to learn that bridge repair work has yet to begin.
The bridge to the beach was abruptly closed last May after being deemed unsafe by a city contractor. The contractor found excessive corrosion and rust on the steel beams after a regular inspection of the bridge.
City spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said work is expected to begin in early March, barring any changes or delays.
One delay was that the bridge’s structural integrity needed to be investigated. A report on the structure came out last June.
Further steps negotiating with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) were also required because the pedestrian bridge goes over mainline railway tracks.
“Repairing the steel structure that crosses the railroad tracks from above requires permitting action by BNSF,” Pembroke said, “and the construction contractor is currently working through that process.”
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the railroad was awaiting a final plan for access and safety from the city.
“Working from the bridge structure needs a complete plan for safety and for the repairs being done with the rust issues. BNSF has to approve it,” Melonas said.
The salmon project is to to improve nearshore habitat at four locations along a 4.5 mile stretch of shoreline between Mukilteo and Everett that is impounded by the railroad.
“The Howarth Park beach has not yet been restored,” said Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) lead staff Kathleen Hermann. “This is a separate project from the city’s pedestrian bridge repair and the county is working closely with the city
to coordinate construction of the Nearshore Beach Restoration Project at
Howarth Park in 2016.”
The nearshore work is being paid for in conjunction with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Puget Sound Partnership.
Howarth Park is one site targeted for restoration while the other three sites, located at the outlets of Powder Mill Gulch, Narbeck and Glenwood Creeks, will have Snohomish River dredge material
brought in to enhance the distribution of sediment
along the shoreline.
The restoration work planned for Howarth Park’s beach will involve removing the majority of the rock armor, known as “rip rap,” that lines the railroad as a shield against erosion. Native vegetation will be planted and new sediment will be placed to nourish and regrade the beach to a more natural profile.
And for long-suffering Howarth Park beach-lovers facing the prospect of another closure, there is yet one more piece of good news: beach nourishment at the park will expand the beach for users
and improve public access.
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