One of Steilacoom’s most picturesque parks is closed until next year after a passing train and a telephone cable combined to damage its main entrance this month.
Saltar’s Point Park features a picnic shelter, 500 feet of saltwater shoreline and stunning views of Ketron and McNeil islands. Visitors reach it by crossing a pedestrian overpass over BNSF Railway lines and taking stairs down to the property.
On Sept. 5, a southbound train sped below the wooden overpass and apparently snagged a sizable CenturyLink phone cable, which slammed into the overpass and damaged its supports before breaking, Town Administrator Paul Loveless said. The phone line had been attached to the overpass.
Loveless said city engineers are working with the railroad to assess the damage and determine the necessary repairs. The span will remain closed until it’s fixed.
Town officials hope to reopen the park by spring.
“Our first priority is to repair the structure, and then we’ll figure out liability after that,” Loveless said.
Puyallup resident Sally Johnson, who owns a rental home near the overpass, said Friday afternoon that her husband and her son-in-law were working on the house the day of the mishap when they heard two loud booms and initially thought a train was derailing. They later retrieved the broken cable, she said.
The three family members have been renovating the house for months, and she’d noticed the phone line had broken away from a brace and had been sagging slightly.
Johnson said she regularly watches cars slow as drivers headed to the park see the barrier in front of the damaged overpass and then drive off. She recalled one woman who told her she’d driven from Auburn to enjoy the park on her day off; she asked Johnson what happened to “my park.”
“I’ve heard that over and over and over again,” Johnson said.
Johnson also is dealing with its closure. She used to visit and walk the park two or three times a day. Now that it’s off-limits, she makes do walking to and from an electric box across the street.
“It’s missed,” she said, gazing across the sound as the county ferry sailed to Anderson Island. “I mean, look at that beach. You can’t get to it.”firstname.lastname@example.org 253-274-7390 @TNTchill