Vashon Island residents vociferously object to proposed bridge at public meeting on March 9, 1992.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 8/02/2002
  • Essay 3911

On March 9, 1992, consultants hired by the Washington State Transportation Commission hold a public meeting on Vashon Island to discuss transportation issues across and around Puget Sound. One proposal is a bridge to Vashon Island. Nearly one fifth of the island’s residents show up to voice objections.

If You Propose It, They Will Come

Serious proposals to build cross-sound bridges have been presented to the public numerous times since World War II. Vashon residents have always opposed the idea of a bridge, wishing to keep their island free from the large-scale growth and development that has occurred throughout the Puget Sound region.

In 1992, the Washington State Transportation Commission hired the engineering consulting firm of Booz Allen & Hamilton to prepare a report to develop transportation policies that dealt with increasing demands for cross-sound travel. Beginning in April representatives of the firm went around Puget Sound sampling opinions from various communities.

Their report looked at 23 options, one of which was a cross-sound bridge connected to Vashon Island, which sits in one of the narrower sections of the sound. Vashon residents, informed of the meeting scheduled to be held in their community, showed up en masse.

Vox Populi

At the time, 9,000 people lived on the island. Two thousand of them made their way to the meeting at the Vashon High School gymnasium. Some carried signs reading “If You Build It, They Will Come,” “Bridges Bring Death,” and “Don’t Mercerize Vashon Island” a reference to the growth that occurred on Mercer Island after the 1940 opening of the Lake Washington Floating Bridge.

Speaker after speaker came up to the microphone. An informal voice vote was held when one speaker asked the audience to boo if they opposed the bridge. Loud booing filled the gym. When the speaker asked if anyone wanted a bridge, there was total silence. At one point, a little girl named Mandy stepped up to the mike and said, “No Bridge.” The crowd went nuts.

Politicians also got into the fray. State Representative Mike Heavy opposed the bridge saying that Puget Sound didn’t need another Galloping Gertie, a reference to the disastrous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. A letter from King County Councilperson Greg Nickels (b. 1955) was read. Nickels called the bridge option “ridiculous,” and agreed with residents that Vashon should not “become another Mercer Island.”

A final draft of the Booz Allen & Hamilton report was presented to the transportation commission on March 31. Since then, no bridge has been built.


“Islanders Envision a Bridge Too Near,” The New York TImes , March 11, 1992, p. 4; “Vashon Islanders Say It Loud and Clear,” The Seattle Times, March 10, 1992, p. C1-C2.

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