Neighbors rally at South Park Bridge closingJuly 1, 2010 @ 9:08 am (Updated: 2:21 pm - 3/28/11 )
It was like a funeral for an old friend, but to the hundreds who showed up to mourn Wednesday evening, the victim was their entire community.
The South Park Bridge connects its namesake to the south end of Boeing Field and the rest of Seattle. The span opened 79 years ago, and it's been dilapidated for decades.
"Things deteriorate. Concrete doesn't last forever," said Debbie Simmons, wearing a sign that read "The last one to leave South Park - Please turn out the lights." "I don't know why they waited so long."
Now the bridge needs to be torn down before it falls down. In the meantime, no traffic will pass over the weathered concrete structure; it was officially closed to cars at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"It's a real sad day," Simmons said, at a 'wake' organized by the community.
Cars and trucks marked the occasion with horns blaring. A contingent of community members marched back and forth with drums - one playing a violin, others dressed in devilish red masks. Someone had shirts made: "The first time a bridge jumped off of you."
The last rites were offered beside a coffin on the South Park side of the bridge by Raymundo Olivas, a local business owner. To him, it's not just about a way to get across the Duwamish River.
"It also means the death of certain businesses here in South Park because there's not going to be any traffic," Olivas said, holding a scythe he fashioned out of cardboard: South Park's very own grim reaper.
Tim Fahey is running for a seat on the King County Council. "It will be so hard for them to earn a profit to keep even the lights on," he said. A majority of local business clientele comes from Boeing Field, just across the now-blocked-off bridge.
The prevailing sentiment is resentment; South Park residents think their bridge, and by extension, the community itself, has been neglected. "I don't think this would happen if this bridge were in Ravenna or Laurelhurst. This would never have been an issue," said resident Barbara Dopkin.
Fahey says it's time to change that. "We just kept getting kicked down the road. I think a lot of us are interested in kicking back."
Cause of Collapse
The I-5 bridge over the Skagit River likely collapsed after a support was struck by a semi truck
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