SEDRO-WOOLLEY — The Skagit Trail Builders continue to blaze trails and build bridges.
Proving once again no job is too big, the volunteer organization completed a bridge spanning Hansen Creek, allowing the Northern State Recreation Area to connect with the Sedro-Woolley Innovation for Tomorrow Center.
Skagit County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Adams said the original bridge collapsed in 2003.
“It wasn’t until we could establish a willing neighbor that it was worth bringing back,” Adams said of the bridge. “The Port of Skagit is an incredible organization to work with. They recognize the importance of making their facility available to the public. The well-planned routes will ensure their tenants still have a sense of security and privacy.”
The Port of Skagit owns the SWIFT Center.
The new bridge was constructed on the abutments of the older span, allowing access from the former Northern State Hospital to its adjoining farm.
“We still had plenty of work to do,” Skagit Trail Builders Executive Director Jim “J.T.” Taylor said. “It took some work to get it all level. We had to do some chiseling to get it plumb and square. But it all came together.”
Art Tuftee of Concept Design LLC was the contractor on the project, co-leading the build with Skagit Trail Builders crew leader Jerry Granahan.
“At their hands, the project was safe and well-managed,” Taylor said. “The pressure of a tight timeline was present, but professionals understand this. Jerry will continue to lead volunteer sessions, while relying on Art’s technical trail expertise.”
Tuftee is certainly an expert when it comes to these endeavors.
“It’s always exciting to build a bridge and this one came together quickly,” Tuftee said. “The old bridge was gone but the abutments were in good shape. They’ll be here for 100 years and so we just had to grind into the concrete to get it level and then drill anchors. It was almost too easy.
“There were still instances where we had to solve this and solve that. But it came together.”
Another time saver was this bridge was identical in length and style to the one the group built at Little Mountain several years ago.
And those swinging the hammers were familiar with the process as well as each other. Taylor said it was the same folks involved with building the Little Mountain bridge and included Taylor, Tuftee, Granahan, John Erbstoeszer, Amos Grey, Gary Moody, James Neff, Lynn Postler, Kinsey Shilling and Bret Turner.
“The span is exactly the same, and so are the people building it,” Granahan said. “It was a good turnout then, and it’s a good turnout now ... Ten volunteers put in just under 250 volunteer hours.”
Granahan said building a bridge of this size is both fun as well as challenging.
“A well designed bridge is always an exceptional addition to a trail system and this one was no exception,” he said. “Art’s attention to the little details makes for a solid and pleasant looking bridge. It will be a a community attraction in the NSRA trail system for many years to come.”
Completing the project in a rather tight window in regards to time was a feat unto itself. Taylor said it took all parties coming together and working cohesively.
“This was a labor of love project,” Adams said. “The Skagit Trail Builders are a first-class organization and have been instrumental in our success as an organization. Partnerships such as the one we have with the Port of Skagit and the Skagit Trail Builders has created synergies. We are bringing back the old routes the patients took as they made their way from the hospital to the farm to do their daily work.”