Storm-damaged bridge in Burien to be demolished

Winter storms have taken a toll on a once sturdy bridge in Burien that now needs to be torn down. (Photo: KOMO News)

BURIEN, Wash. - Winter has come and gone but the storm fronts from earlier this year were some of the harshest in recent memory. Months later, those systems are still having an impact in Burien, where a once sturdy bridge now needs to be torn down.

“I can't believe it hasn't fallen yet,” said Jamie Fournier, who lives at one end of the Peter Western bridge, which spans a deep ravine along S 116th Street.

He took cell phone video after a storm in early February which shows a tiny stream turn into a rushing torrent that undercut the support columns.

“The water just came up, rushed all the way around, and just pulled all of that soil with it,” Fournier said. “All the way along that opposite bank, it just started eating away at all of that land."

That one nasty storm forced the city to close the bridge later that day. The creek had stripped away so much soil that inspectors discovered the support columns no longer reached the ground.

The bridge also became so unstable that even pedestrians were banned from using it, though some still tried.

“We're constantly telling people, ‘You guys it's not safe. Don't cross,” Fournier said.

A check with WSDOT and Seattle road crews turned up no other bridges in such dire straits. The rebuilding costs will total more than $8 million, however federal funding should cover all of those costs.

Fournier said that money will preserve something even more priceless.

“It's going to be nice not having to worry about somebody dying right here on our property,” he said.

A city spokesperson said demolition and clean-up should be done within the month, but re-building the bridge will take as long as two years to complete.

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