INDEX, Wash. — Months after a mudslide cut them off from their homes, residents are celebrating the completion of a new bridge over the Skykomish River near Index.
But there are some disagreements over who paid for the bridge — and who should get to use it.
“I think we still grin every time we drive across it,” Mark Bollman, president of the Mount Index Riversites homeowners group, said Monday.
He can now drive to his home. He hasn’t been able to do that since a mudslide wiped away the major access road last winter.
“There was this feeling that our real estate was worth nothing,” Bollman said, referring to the time right after the January slide. “You might as well shrug and give up.”
But many of his neighbors pitched in their own money. They convinced the Snohomish County Public Utilities Department to put in the rest, so they could get back to their community.
“To have this bridge up so fast, it is amazing,” said part-time resident Fred Slusser.
The land where the bridge is located is private property. So even before the mudslide, residents had to pitch in to take care of the roads.
“This is pretty much an eight-mile private driveway, and a bunch of us neighbors share the responsibility for this driveway,” said Bollman.
But not everyone has been paying their dues, so board members say not everyone should get to use the new bridge. There is a private gate leading to the bridge. Only residents who have paid up have been given the code to open the gate.
“To pay the road dues means you’re participating in the community, therefore you should participate with access,” explained Slusser. “If you’re not going to pay your dues, don’t think you’re going to get access. Why would you want to rip off the rest of the people in the community?”
Board members say they understand some people are on fixed incomes. That’s why they’re willing to give the code to those who are trying to pay.
“I certainly respect the folks who make a good-faith effort to make some regular monthly payment each month,” said Bollman.
“This is a whole community effort — it’s not just one or two people, or the board,” added Slusser. “If you’re making an attempt to be part of the community, then the community is yours.”