Washington wants to declare burned bridge ‘major disaster’

Prosser Bridge
Credit: Dennis Homan

PROSSER, Wash. (AP) — The state of Washington has asked the federal government to declare a destroyed railroad bridge a major disaster after it was burned down in a wildfire in September.

The 100-year-old bridge spanned the Yakima River near Prosser, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Yakima, the Tri-City Herald reported.

The Washington State Short Line Railroad Coalition said the appeal was made this week to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get money to rebuild what it called a “critical” bridge. The cost to replace the bridge is unclear.

“I request that you declare a Major Disaster for the state of Washington as a result of severe drought and the extensive damages incurred by extreme fire behavior,” Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said. “The historic bridge was used as a critical transportation corridor to ship agricultural products in the region.”

The rail cars hauled all types of freight over the bridge to and from Yakima and Benton counties, including about 3,600 rail carloads or about 14,500 truckloads, association officials said. Multiple industries have been affected by the damages including the diary and grape industries, feed for many livestock operations and other agricultural, food processing and shipping operations.

RELATED: Train bridge over Yakima River between Prosser, Benton City catch on fire