Two Chelan County employees are being honored for their work on the biggest road project in the county's history.

The Washington County Road Administration Board (WCRAB) has named Assistant County engineer Paula Cox and Assistant Public Works director Josh Patrick as Project Managers of the Year.

The two oversaw the $27 million West Cashmere Bridge project linking Goodwin Road with U.S. Hwy. 2

Cox led the internal design and consultant work for the project and also served as its grant writer, securing federal and state money to finance it.

She oversaw the project from its early days dating back to 2015 until Patrick took over during its construction phase from February 2020 through 2022.

Patrick oversaw 119 bid items as well as the construction management team, and was the project liaison to stakeholders such as the state Department of Transportation, Link Transit and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

During a Tuesday presentation during a meeting of Chelan County commissioners, WCRAB Deputy Director Drew Woods credited Patrick for handling sensitive negotiations with BNSF.

"There's a running joke that railroads are more powerful than the U.S government," said Woods. "And you know what? It's based on fact. Josh navigated through their process. He successfully served as the voice of reason."

The bridge opened up seven months later than scheduled in June of 2022 because of permitting delays with BNSF.

Woods says Cox and Patrick provided strong leadership over the project.

“They did all of this while they were doing their normal day-to-day business, managing staff, keeping other projects moving forward," Woods said. "If this had been a DOT project or a larger public agency, they would've had multiple staff members just to do what Paula and Josh did as individuals. And that should be commended."

Chelan County Public Works director Eric Pierson nominated Cox and Patrick for the recognition. Pierson himself was named County Engineer of the Year last year at the WCRAB Summer Conference at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop.

The new West Cashmere Bridge replaced the previous bridge, which was built in 1929 and has been failing for some time. It was in danger of being shut down over safety issues before the current bridge was built.

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