Boeing's Puzzling Silence on the Closure of the South Park Bridge

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An estimated 10,000 people work at Boeing Field. So it makes sense that the company would be dismayed if one of the primary routes leading to it were to close. As it turns out, that scenario is no longer hypothetical.

In case you haven't heard, King County will be shutting the South Park bridge down June 30 pending the results of a Road Services study on whether it's fit for continued use. This was not an unexpected development. But the news has left the political executives who hold, respectively, the most and least sway over the bridge's ultimate fate frustrated (Dow Constantine), pissed off (Mike McGinn), and scrambling to come up with a contingency plan.

But as for Boeing, the aerospace giant's outcry has been largely nonexistent.

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What you don't see while crossing the South Park bridge.
Boeing spokesperson Bernard Choi says that while the company has been receiving regular updates from King County on the bridge's status, its ultimate fate is largely out of the company's control.

Back in 2007, Boeing threw its weight behind the $47 billion transportation proposal that would have freed up up the necessary funds to replace the bridge. The voters didn't approve, obviously.

Seen in light of Microsoft's recent shot across the bow of the S.S. McGinn over the Mayor's 11th-hour suggested edits to the plan to replace the 520 bridge, Boeing's quiet reserve is that much more puzzling.

To what degree the bridge's closing presents a problem for Boeing is unclear. Layoffs have left the number of employees that work at the Tukwila campus down from previous years. But Choi notes that along with the Boeing workers that use the bridge, the truckers that make supply-drops at the facility will also have to use alternative routes.

Asked if the company had identified such an alternative, Choi let drop that they have some "contingencies that work," but declined to go into details.

No word on whether any of them include what was formerly the double secret route known to few outside of South Park lifers. So if, come July 31, the so-dubbed "Boeing Bridge" is clogged with commuters, blame Mike Seely.

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