Bridge to Beach earns ‘Smart Communities Award’

Gov. Chris Gregoire has awarded Pierce County a 2011 Smart Communities Award for enhancing the quality of life by building the Bridge to the Beach.

Pierce County was one of 12 communities recognized yesterday by Gov. Gregoire. The Governor’s Smart Communities Award Program highlights outstanding efforts to create quality communities through achieving the goals of the Growth Management Act and other community development objectives. A statewide panel of growth management and community development leaders reviewed the nominations and selected Pierce County’s Bridge to the Beach Project as the winner under the “Smart Partnerships — Development Project to Implement a Plan” category.

“I am proud of the investment that the local community and the State have made over the past 10 years to provide enhanced public access throughout the Chambers Creek Properties,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “The Bridge to the Beach project is a key reflection of this investment. This project offers a wonderful enhancement to the quality of life in the South Sound and it is an incredible asset to the citizens of Pierce County.”

The Public Development Division of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities is the award recipient, with special recognition of the 10 staff members who successfully delivered the project. The bridge, which opened in September and stretches nearly 900 feet and peaks at 28 feet above busy railroad tracks, required three years of planning and 10 months of construction. It provides safe public access to more than two miles of Puget Sound shoreline along the county-owned Chambers Creek Properties.

The 12 communities recognized this year are considered models in planning for smart growth. They have shown outstanding work in innovative and wise land use, resource management, enhanced rural preservation, water utility planning, and transportation planning; effective city-county partnerships and achieving significant public participation; and incorporation of public safety and community gathering places, density supporting transportation, and reducing vehicle miles traveled, and downtown revitalization as key components of their growth plans.

“The forward-thinking leadership demonstrated by these communities is part of what makes Washington a great place to live and do business,” said Department of Commerce Director Rogers Weed. “Sustainable and smart growth protects valuable resources and improves our quality of life.”

The Governor has rewarded outstanding local planning efforts through the Smart Communities Awards since 2006. The Smart Communities Awards are administered by the Growth Management Program at the Washington State Department of Commerce.

“Washington state needs to create and maintain vibrant communities if we want to continue to attract a strong workforce and growing businesses,” Gregoire said. “I’m proud of the remarkable work that’s going on across our state to balance economic growth with sustainable development.”

The award will be presented to Pierce County on Nov. 16 at the Washington State Association of Counties annual meeting in Bellevue.

For more information on the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards or the Growth Management Act, visit http://www.commerce.wa.gov/growth .

For more information about the Bridge to the Beach and Chambers Creek Properties, visit http://www.piercecountywa.org/ccp .