You’ve heard this one before. On my
way back from Seattle a few weeks ago, the attendant that sold me
my ferry ticket to board the Bremerton boat marked me down as
heading to Bainbridge.
I politely protested. He said it didn’t matter. I
insisted that, as a reporter, I had been told repeatedly by ferry
officials that it did matter. He called his boss. His boss told him
it didn’t matter.
I left with my receipt and plenty of questions for
ferries officials. Once again, a Bremerton rider had been counted
as heading to Bainbridge, as I’d heard many times before. Only this
time, I witnessed it with my own eyes.
No, Sterling said. The attendants should be marking
them down correctly. And his supervisor should’ve voided the sale
and started the process again. Sterling said the staff would be
getting a “written reminder” to ensure accuracy.
“This is something that comes up from time to time,”
Why it’s important: The ferry system uses those
ridership statistics for planning its route capacity. So it is a
big deal, and if you find yourself in a similar situation, please
let me know.
In my own case, the attendant vowed to count the next
two motorists as going to Bremerton regardless, as a consolation
I’m puzzled about why this keeps happening. I can
only chalk it up to a disconnect between those managing the ferries
and the people selling the tickets. It only applies when you drive
your vehicle on the vessel in Seattle; walk-on passengers buy a
But has it affected the statistics? Hard to say.
The Bainbridge route indeed has higher ridership.
carried 6.3 million riders in 2015; Bremerton’s carried 2.7
million. But of those, 25 percent drove on the ferry in
Bremerton, compared with 30 percent on Bainbridge in 2015. This
might just be Bremerton’s typically-high walk-on passenger counts
but if attendants continue to count Bremerton’s vehicles as
Bainbridge’s, it stands to reason it will have an
But for some Bremerton ferry riders, getting the
wrong receipt is a symptom of a bigger issue: That their route is
treated differently. Bainbridge has vessels
built in the 1990s; Bremerton’s are late-60s era models.
Bainbridge has more sailings. One commuter I talked to even feels
the terminal in Seattle is nicer on the Bainbridge side. And last
week, when the Kaleetan ferry experienced steering issues,
passengers to Bremerton were ultimately taken to Bainbridge, where
a bus waited to take them home. Generally, when a Bainbridge vessel
goes out of service, it is quickly replaced, setting off a domino
effect that impacts the Bremerton run.
Even the credit card system at Colman Dock doesn’t
acknowledge Bremerton. Regardless of the destination the attendant
marks you down for, your credit card statement will say
“WSFERRIES-BAINBRIDGE,” as the line item no matter
I asked Sterling if he hears such complaints about
from most routes from time to time that they believe other routes
get more attention,” he told me.
The San Juans routes, for instance,
feel Seattle “get more than they do,” he said.
“I can tell you that WSF is focused
on the system as a whole,” Sterling said. “Bremerton is one of our
core central sound routes.”
He closed with one final point:
Guess who’s getting a
brand new $123 million ferry next spring?
But when it comes to receipts, it appears the only
way to ensure your trip counts to its proper destination is to keep
a close eye on it and contact the ferry system if you’re
Bainbridged* by mistake. I’ll be happy to help, too.
Road construction typically declines as summer ends and
the rains of fall return. But around Bremerton, have
you noticed the construction cones are lingering?
Here’s a roundup of road construction projects, and when you can
expect things will wrap up.
Riddell Road: A joint venture between the
city and Kitsap County got this road, on the northern edge of
Bremerton, repaved. Work was completed this week (pictured) though
Bremerton crews still have to add markings to the roadway itself.
The city paid $60,000 to the county to complete the effort, which
came from the Transportation Benefit District.
Austin Drive: The city received about
$700,000 in federal funding to repave the entirety of the
roadway, between Kitsap Way and Erland’s Point Road. An
agreement was reached with the Navy to also repave a portion of
Higbee Road, which goes to the Naval Hospital. Plus, in a nod to
pedestrians crossing the road inside NAD Park, a “tabletop”
intersection will be added that slows cars.
Work will begin Monday and last about two weeks.
Junction island: This sounds more exotic than it
really is, but if you’ve ever tried to cross runway sized
Kitsap Way near Harlow Drive, it can feel like a real-life game
of Frogger. No more. A pedestrian “refuge” island means you can go
halfway across and stop and a crosswalk will guide the way. The
concrete work here is nearly complete but there’s one more
component that remains: a “rapid flashing beacon” that will light
up to alert motorists that pedestrians are crossing.
The poles and electronics won’t be installed until late
December, City Engineer Tom Knuckey said. But in the meantime, most
of the construction cones should go away.
Here’s what’s happening at the other four intersections those
federal dollars are enhancing. In each case, construction cones
should go away by early October but expect crews to return to erect
poles and the electronic aspects at the end of 2016.
6th Street and High Avenue: The intersection is
getting a “HAWK” signal that will allow pedestrians to stop
traffic to stop Sixth at the push of a button.
1st Street and Charleston Boulevard: The
crossing is getting a rapid flashing beacon like the one on Kitsap
Way at Harlow Drive.
11th Street and High Avenue: Aside from the new
concrete curbs, the intersection will get “countdown clocks” that
inform pedestrians how long they have to cross.
Kitsap Way at 11th Street: The new concrete
curbs are in, and the intersection will get “countdown clocks” that
inform pedestrians how long they have to cross.
Tracyton Guardrail: City officials cannot seem
to get a bid — at least yet — from a construction company to
construct a $100,000 guardrail along Tracyton Beach Road. They’ve
vowed to keep trying, and that construction would happen in the
fall. “We just need to get it done,” Knuckey said. A
young woman was killed there early this year.
If you’ve spent time at Pendergast’s “Bark
Park,” you know about the charming fire hydrant to
which countless visiting dogs have, shall we say, laid
That is, until early last week, when the hydrant mysteriously
Kim Demko, a frequent visitor to the park with her dog, was
saddened to find it gone. The hydrant was the only permanent
“ornament” at the park, one she was told might be one day
incorporated into a water system should one be installed there.
“It was also a friendly confirmation
that you had actually arrived at the location of the dog park,” she
I had to wonder: who steals a fire hydrant? The thing
weighs about 500 pounds, so whoever did it came prepared. Demko
circulated word on Facebook about the theft. I inquired with the
As it turns out, it was no thief at all — just its
original owner bringing it out of retirement. Bremerton Public
Works crews snagged it to take some parts and repair a hydrant
damaged in a crash Sept. 2 at Almira Drive and Sylvan Way on the
“It was the only one left that we had,” said
Bremerton Public Works Administration Manager Milenka
And there’s good news for dog park users: the city
was able to place another hydrant out at the park Wednesday. Its
artful design (above, at the top of the page) was painted
by Darrell Clauson, a lead in public works’
wastewater and stormwater division.
Oh, and lest I forget, some improvements are coming
to the bark park. I’ll have more on that in an upcoming story
in the Kitsap Sun.
The street lights will stay on in Bremerton, and, city
officials hope, they’ll save some money too. At a
brisk meeting Wednesday night, the Bremerton City Council approved
the retrofit of 531 street lights with LED technology, meaning
they’ll last longer and require less maintenance.
The cost: $268,000. A state grant and a rebate from Puget Sound
Energy drops the cost to the city to $140,000, which officials say
will pay for itself in six years. The $194,000 installation cost
will be paid to the Consolidated Electrical Distribution company,
which has a Bremerton location.
You might remember the
demonstration project on Dr. ML King Way that spurred the
latest purchase, one spearheaded by Public Works Director Chal
Martin. There are a total of 1,619 street lamps in the city, so
many will still be of the traditional variety.
Also at Wednesday’s City Council meeting:
Sworn officers: Bremerton’s newest
lieutenant, Mike Davis, was sworn into office Wednesday night.
Davis, who grew up in Kitsap County, became a Bremerton officer in
1998; he’s trained fellow officers, instructed on defensive
tactics, been a detective and K-9 officer and, more recently, was
promoted to sergeant.
Put simply, Davis has been an integral part of criminal cases
that jolted the community conscience —
Arnold’s Fire and the
killing of Buddy the police dog. Police Chief Steve Strachan
read an email from retired Bremerton Police Sgt. Bill Endicott
at the meeting, who said Davis would provide the “professional,
ethical, and moral” tutelage for a new generation of officers.
Three sergeants — Tim Garrity, Aaron Elton and Keith Sargent —
were promoted Wednesday. (And, as Strachan pointed out, that means
the city now has a Sergeant Sargent.)
Also on Wednesday, Officer Jeff Schaefer was promoted to
corporal (for background on the position,
click here). Former Poulsbo Officer Jennifer Corn and former
Bainbridge Island Officer Mike Tovar were sworn-in as new officers
in Bremerton as well.
Chromium-6: Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent
addressed new fears that the
chemical has been found in unsafe levels in most every state in
the country. She claimed Bremerton’s drinking water is well under
federal limits. “We have a much lower (level) than current
standards,” she said. To see the city’s water quality, click
Public Works Turmoil: Councilman Greg
Wheeler talked about the
investigations that led to discipline among personnel in the
Public Works Department during his report. He said the Council
learned of the investigations because the Kitsap Sun was set to
publish a story, and that, though he’s the chairman of the City
Council’s Public Works Committee, the situation was appropriately
handled by Lent and the city’s administration.
He did add he was “very concerned about the morale of the city
staff and our employees” and that he hoped to see more
“communication and trust” being built. “This change starts at the
top,” he said.
Beautify Bremerton: The annual city “Beautify
Bremerton” day is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Residents here,
as well as landlords, can take all yard waste free of charge to a
disposal site near Legion Field off Sheridan Road. There’s also an
army of volunteers and workers that will clean up parks and plazas
around the city, including the Pat Carey Vista, Madrona Trails and
medians near the Navy’s Farragut gate off Charleston Boulevard.
To see the full minutes and agenda of the City Council meeting,
Commuters to Bremerton at the ferry terminal in Seattle
faced a infuriating evening Tuesday night. The
Kaleetan ferry broke down due to steering issues the same
afternoon, triggering the Coast Guard-mandated
600 passenger cap on vessels capable of holding double
With the 5:35 p.m. sailing canceled, the numbers waiting stacked
up. The Hyak’s 6:45 p.m. could only go with 600, and troopers with
the Washington State Patrol had to hold people back.
“It was mayhem,” said Dr. Robert Bullock, a commuter to Seattle,
who added some people were screaming.
“We are second class citizens in Bremerton,” added Art Conrad,
It took most commuters many hours to make it home, on a night it
usually takes about one.
Because the vessels on the Bremerton run don’t have enough life
rafts, the Coast Guard has capped runs when only one boat is
present at 600. On Tuesday, that left lines of passengers waiting
in Seattle to catch what looks like a ferry with ample space. And
certainly not the first time this has happened.
The state ferries and Kitsap Transit worked out an emergency
deal Tuesday that allowed commuters to take the Seattle-Bainbridge
ferry — and their larger capacities — to Winslow. From there, a
Kitsap Transit bus would haul them the 45 minutes to Bremerton. But
commuters told me they also had to transfer buses in Silverdale,
making the trek even longer.
Elissa Torgeson, another commuter, said she rushed to wait in
the area past the turnstiles so she could guarantee herself a spot
on the soonest boat to Bremerton. And then, ferry officials
announced they could take the Bainbridge and board a bus.
She said some ferry employees did not empathize with the
situation and did not keep commuters waiting informed of what was
Buses were “standing room only,” at the Bainbridge terminal,
according to local resident Susan Digby.
Ian Sterling, a spokesman for the state ferry system, said the
Kaleetan would not likely be fixed Tuesday night. It’s unclear what
will happen Wednesday morning at this point.
“We sympathize with those commuters who have endured a long
night,” he said. “That’s the reality of an aging fleet.”
Sterling added that the addition to the Bremerton run of a
new ferry, the Chimacum, in 2017, will allow 1,500 people to
board the boat at all sailings, due to its safety enhancements.
But it was a long night Tuesday. And with a game at Safeco
Field and only one vessel working the route, it became a Wednesday
morning for some.
Here’s what the ferry system sent out at 8:30 p.m.
Due to mechanical issues, the
Kaleetan is temporarily out of service. This cancels the 9:05pm
sailing from Bremerton. There will be three sailings departing
Seattle: 9:05pm, the 10:30pm will depart late and the sailing at
12:50am will also depart late. The next sailing from Bremerton will
depart with a late 11:40pm. Until two boat service is restored on
the Seattle/Bremerton route the Hyak will only board a maximum of
600 total passengers, this includes vehicles. The vessel is unable
to board additional passengers for safety reasons. We apologize for
any inconvenience. Updates will be provided as conditions
Below is a video showing the chaos (OK fine, chaos
isn’t quite accurate) people in the terminal as the
UPDATE: Repairs were made to the Kaleetan and it was set to sail
again on the 6:20 am ferry to Seattle.
Students walking to Naval Avenue Early
Learning Center Tuesday morning got special escorts to cross
the street. The Bremerton Citizens Advisory Patrol, a
volunteer group that helps provide additional eyes and ears to the
city’s police department, brought hot chocolate and a helping hand
to crossing guards. (You too can
sign up here to volunteer, if you so choose.)
Those passing by Fred Meyer on Highway 303 might
not notice that a $10.2 million overhaul is wrapping up.
The store’s exterior hides a transformation on the inside that
includes new departments and products, has made the 204,000
square-foot location much greener and gives the grocer a
Since March, construction crews have been gutting the
store section by section. Aside from some finishing touches to the
jewelry department and children’s play area, the work is done.
Kroger, which owns the store,
wanted a renovation that revolved around the customer experience,
and store manager Axel Strakeljahn is confident they succeeded.
“We believe that this community is committed to
growing,” he said. “And we’re committed to being part of that.”
One need only look up or down upon entering to find
the most obvious changes. The store now has 63 skylights and new
lighting, to go with brighter color schemes. On the ground, all the
original tiles were stripped off, exposing a concrete floor. It was
ground down, sealed and polished, giving the floor a darker, more
The goal was sustainability, Strakeljahn said.
Natural light will lower the building’s carbon footprint and its
new floor needs none of the chemicals — just water — that the
old one required.
Also near the northern entrance is a floral
department and, for the first time, the store has hired a full-time
Near that is a brand new sushi bar. (Your Bremerton
Beat correspondent, who is quite fond of sushi, sampled a
California roll and found it delectable.)
The wine section doubled in size, and is now more
than 100 feet longer than it was before (And the store already has
a full-time wine steward). For local beer connoisseurs, there’s
also more room for microbrews, too.
For the first time, there’s a dedicated section for
Washington sports teams.
A new, larger pharmacy replaces the electronics
department, which moved east to the back of the store and is also
The nutritional food section, which includes
organics and bulk foods, is also about twice the size it used to
The store is celebrating its “Grand Re-opening”
starting at 7 a.m. Friday. Doughnuts and coffee will be served,
specials will run through the end of the month and the first 2,000
customers will get Fred Meyer reusable grocery bags.
Check back to the Bremerton Beat Tuesday for a video
of the remodeled store and an interview with Strakeljahn.
Down a lonely, one-way road off the Olympic College
campus is an historic home teeming with eclectic plant
life. In recent years, the treasured estate long
owned by Dr. Henry and Elizabeth “Billie” Barner has largely
gone unnoticed. But place now known as Olympic College’s “Secret
Garden,” whose potential is being tapped by a few professors there,
is enjoying new life as an outdoor classroom.
As part of the Kitsap Sun’s latest Story
Walk, we will tour the property with special guests
including Olympic College President David Mitchell, Kitsap
Historical Society Director Dean Tingey, and the professors who are
utilizing this now Olympic College-owned resource as a learning
I had time to ask Gov. Jay Inslee only one question at
the christening of Bremerton’s new ferry today. But I knew
what it was going to be.
It’s no secret Bremerton has often been left with the oldest and
creakiest vessels in the fleet, especially when ferries break down.
Meanwhile, Bainbridge Island, where Inslee happens to call home,
generally maintains the largest and nicest of boats through it all.
Ferries officials make a logical argument that Bainbridge’s ferry
ridership is roughly three
times that of Bremerton’s, though
Bremerton’s is growing.
In my brief time with Inslee, as you can watch above, I asked
him how he’ll feel about Bremerton getting the newest boat and
freshest paint job. The governor didn’t miss a beat.
“I think I’m gonna come to Bremerton just so I can
ride the Chimacum,” he said. “This is a beautiful boat.”
He added that he has a piece of the Kalakala on his desk, and that the
iconic vessel once served Bremerton as its ferry.
I will add this: there’s no promise that the ferry
system will always run the Chimacum to Bremerton — these are boats
after all. Yet there’s good reason to think she’ll stick around for
awhile. For one, the vessel will be adorned with
works of Bremerton art and history.