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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Twenty-Three

Southend: Keep Your Bridge, We Like Ferries!

In a special edition of Whidbey Press, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Deception Pass Bridge, Jim Larsen, editor of the South Whidbey Record, wrote this story, under the headline: "Keep Your Bridge-We like Ferries!"

The Deception Pass Bridge offers North Whidbey residents access to bucolic Fidalgo Island, the beautiful Skagit Valley and other pleasant points in all directions. A South Whidbey bridge, on the other hand, would link the small communities of Clinton, Langley and Freeland directly to such giants as Everett, Lynnwood, Seattle, etc. The Southend's rural, laid-back lifestyle would quickly become a thing of the past when subjected to hordes of people just a few minutes away by car.

A South Whidbey bridge makes a good topic for rainy day discussions, but today nobody seriously proposes that one be built. Nothing like that has happened since 1968 when Governor Dan Evans sent ripples of shock through the populace by commissioning a study to see if a bridge to South Whidbey should be built.

The Toll Bridge Authority completed its study and found a bridge would be too expensive. Four possible bridge locations were considered: Mukilteo and Columbia Beach (the present ferry run); Skatchet Head to the mainland; Hermosa Point north of Everett to Camano to Whidbey; and from Interstate 5 to Hat Island to Whidbey.

In 1985 the State Ferry System updated the old study to consider a four-lane highway link between South Whidbey and Everett with a crossing at Hat Island. Again the cost killed the idea.

Improved transportation to the mainland has been conversation for decades, and Elsie Olkonenn, long-time resident of Clinton was quoted, "There has never been support on South Whidbey for a bridge. We didn't want that many people moving to Whidbey."

South Whidbey's business community has always been against a South Whidbey bridge. SW Chamber of Commerce leaders said "No." The consensus was that South Whidbey residents are happy with only one bridge... and that is the one at Deception Pass!

Many of the new upgrades to Deception Pass State Park were outlined by Park Manager Bill Overby at the March 1998 Chamber of Commerce meeting.

There are 77 new hookup sites that will allow off-season camping. The new entry to the Park will be completed this summer; new bathroom facilities up on the bridge; dock improvements at Bowman's Bay Cabin; upgrades at the Cornet Bay ELC (Environmental Learning Center) and its usage for retreats and events. The Park receives over four million visitors per year and has received many accolades including Favorite Family Vacation Spot, Favorite Park Ranger, and "one of the top 100 campgrounds in the West"!

In his address, Overby stressed that the park belongs to the people, and he hopes that the community will continue to gain pleasure from it for many generations to come.

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