Pierce County News

1. Railroad bridge project recognized for design

A design project aimed at replacing a narrow, obsolete bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe main line south of Fort Lewis has garnered honors for Pierce County and a consulting engineering firm. The Nisqually Road Railroad Overpass project was named Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association Washington Chapter.

The project, which included reconstruction of 1.8 miles of Nisqually Road from I-5 to the Nisqually River, provided a much-needed improvement to a rural major collector that runs from Interstate 5 in Pierce County to Yelm and Lacey in Thurston County. Its completion allows the 7,200 autos and light trucks and 800 semi trucks and trailers that travel the road daily to more safely navigate that route.

The award, for projects costing between $2 million and $10 million, was received recently by Don Peterson, the county’s bridge engineering supervisor, and project engineer Bob Fernandez of Berger/Abam at a special luncheon in Seattle.

According to Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler, the Nisqually Road needed more than just a new over crossing. “The road’s riding surfaces were rough and narrow, and trucks slowed to a crawl on the nerve-racking turn, causing congestion,” he said. The design team faced numerous challenges, including eliminating the old alignment’s sharp turn. “The most difficult issue to overcome was how to meet the railroad’s needs and still cross the tracks at an acceptable angle,” Ziegler said.

The $7 million project’s other challenges included the steep and environmentally sensitive terrain, unstable slopes susceptible to erosion, and high voltage power lines nearby that were not easily relocated. “This was the single largest bridge project ever done on a Pierce County road,” the county’s Peterson said. “The result is highly satisfying in all respects. The new over crossing not only is a graceful-looking structure that provides a smooth ride but it also benefits motorists by eliminating a safety hazard and source of congestion.”

Quigg Brothers Inc. of Aberdeen was the project’s general contractor.

2. Teen Trips offers summer adventure

Young people between the ages of 12 and 15 can go to a Mariners game, experience kayaking, travel to Ocean Shores and take part in other activities through Pierce County Parks and Recreation’s new Teen Trips program.

While younger boys and girls can participate in day camp or attend day care, no specific parks program was available for teens. “We are trying to bridge the gap between youth and adult programming,” said Wendi Garrison, recreation supervisor. “Teen Trips provides positive role models and fun activities during the summer months.”

Seven trips are planned, starting with the Mariners versus Oakland A’s Tuesday, June 21. The $35 fee includes transportation and ticket. The excursion begins at 5 p.m. at the Lakewood Community Center and ends there at 11 p.m.

Travel is by van, and 12 teens can be accommodated for each trip. Drivers are Parks and Recreation employees.

Registration can be accomplished by mail, fax or in person at the Parks Administration Office in the Lakewood Community Center, 9112 Lakewood Drive S.W. A registration form can be obtained online at http://www.piercecountywa.org/parks. The form includes a “hold harmless” waiver that must be signed by a parent or guardian.

The Teen Trips schedule also includes Kayaking at Gig Harbor, July 12; Tukwila Family Fun Center, July 19; Bowling, Pizza and Pool, July 26; Day in Seattle/Ride the Ducks of Seattle, Aug. 9; Ocean Shores, Aug. 16; and Wild Waves and Enchanted Village, Aug. 23.

3. Salmon funding program seeks community involvement

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to establish the East Kitsap Community Salmon Fund.

Besides Kitsap County, the fund program applies to Pierce County west of the Narrows Bridge, including the islands.

The Community Salmon Fund offers individual grants up to $20,000 to stimulate small scale, voluntary action by landowners, community groups, and businesses to support salmon recovery. A total of up to $120,000 is available, depending on matching funds provided by local sponsors.

The program’s goals are to fund salmon habitat restoration projects that have a substantial benefit to watershed health and near shore areas. Applicants may be non-profits, educational institutions, tribes, or local governments. Community groups without non-profit status are encouraged to seek an eligible sponsor.

Projects must address salmon habitat restoration on private property, engage community groups as project sponsors, and have a high likelihood of being self-sustaining. Projects on public property may be considered if they have strong community involvement and serve as a model for similar efforts on private property.

Proposals are due Aug. 26. Successful applicants will be notified of awards by Nov. 15.

For more information about the application process, contact Autumn Salamack with Evergreen Funding Consultants at 206-691-0700.
Applications are available at http://www.nfwf.org/programs/eastkitsap.htm.

4. County budget receives national award

Pierce County Budget and Finance has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association in Chicago.

The award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and represents a significant achievement by Budget and Finance Department Director Patrick Kenney, Budget Manager Mary Schmidtke and their coworkers. “It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting,” said Stephen J. Gauthier, GFOA spokesman.

In order to receive the budget award, Pierce County had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. The guidelines are designed to assess how well the budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide and communications device.

GFOA award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and serve as examples for other governmental organizations.