A Bridge To Somewhere

The beautiful curving bridge in the State Park in Clallam Bay is accessible again.

Finished Bridge

The Clallam River had torn apart the bridgehead on the gravel-based parkland and spit, and left the sturdy bridge base stranded with one end hanging over open river. The Clallam Bay/Sekiu Chamber of Commerce obtained FEMA funds to move the bridge to a more stable location. Washington State Parks and Fisheries were working with FEMA to bridge the river without disturbing its flow or fishing capability. In the course of the 2005-2006 winter storms, the bay built the pebble strip back to the base of the bridge. Local children saw a chance to re-establish access, and took it.

Ted Smith of Washington State Parks said, 'I saw the creative stuff going on, and I knew people needed a legitimate site access."

Smith visited the park to see the original ramp, which had been built by local children using driftwood and nails. He was accompanied by a coastal geologist who hadn't been associated with the original bridge project, and who could offer an unbiased opinion.

According to the geologist, the ramp could be in place for fifty years — or only five. He said that the river was so dynamic no one could predict what it would do.

The day after Smith received a photograph of the kids' project, a new ramp, lightly built but with a handrail, appeared in its place. Someone in the community had taken the problem into their own hands.

The Mystery Bridge

"No one knows who built it," said Smith. "It's the mystery ramp."

Smith called the Parks Department's Construction Maintenance Superintendant, Jim Neill. Neill contacted the Park's marine crew, which maintains an inventory of dock parts.

"They happened to have a spare ramp," said Smith. "They more or less organized it. Then, whoa! They just got it in."

Smith thanked a construction crew from Clallam County, who showed up early on Thursday, June 15, to assist the marine crew with the ramp construction. The marine crew brought the bridge over the ramp on an excavator, then both crews cooperated to finish the ramp in a few hours.

"It all just happened," said Smith. "It's the magic bridge."

The challenge now is to re-direct the FEMA money for re-constructing access on the bridge's present site. The Emergency Management District in Olympia is working with FEMA on funding usage.

"FEMA has been very helpful," said Smith. "We're thinking of something articulatable, that raises up and down."

The Clallam River empties to the west of the bridge, just north of the park camping area, rendering the camping spots inaccessible to the public through the park itself. Smith says that temporary structures are being considered. No further details for future bridge construction were available at this time.

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