Tunnel Vision

So on Friday I’m up at a campsite talking to a guy I know and he asks me about the Bremerton tunnel. Actually, he heard me talking on the phone to someone as I was finishing the story.

Detour — That’s the wonder of our age. I’m at a campsite where I can get cell reception, good enough to get some information from the state and pass it along to my editor. — End of detour.

The guy asks me if the tunnel is still on. Yep, I tell him. “What a waste of money,” he says, adding that downtown business owners don’t want it.

On another day, however, I had a conversation with someone who said the people who don’t want the tunnel are the same ones who are responsible for the current state of downtown. It wasn’t a compliment.

Like the idea or not, the tunnel is coming. Do you think it will do what it’s intended to do? Will it be good or bad for Bremerton?

21 thoughts on “Tunnel Vision

  1. How could the tunnel be ‘bad’ for Bremerton?
    IF Bremerton envisions ferry traffic choked streets as desirable, the tunnel funneling ferry traffic in and out of town would be bad.
    How would the ferry foot traffic be handled?
    Would recumbent trike cyclists be forced to mingle with the vehicle traffic in the tunnel?

  2. I lived in Bremerton for 47 years before i recently moved to Las Vegas. I think the tunnel is a typical Norm Dicks Pork Barrel liberal booddoggle. I just can’t imagine spending that much money in Bremerton in any worse way.

    I say give Dicks the Golden Fleece Award for this act of stupidity.

  3. I am typically not in favor of this type of spending – earmarks are, in general, a bad thing.
    The traffic jam resulting from the discharge of people and vehicles when a ferry arrives is incredible – and I can only imagine it getting worse as downtown becomes more liveable.
    I would prefer to see a pedestrian bridge that routes people up and over Washington Ave so that traffic departing the ferry dock can flow – that would be cheaper.

  4. I think the tunnel is a big wast of money.

    The ferry only goes 3-4 times during the day anyway.

    I also think the public should get to vote on it before it can be built.

  5. Bremerton is spending millions of dollars to attract people to the waterfront, and more millions to isolate ferry riders from the waterfront and hustle them out of town as quickly as possible. The main goal seems to be to spend all of the federal pork that Norm Dicks brought home.

  6. That’s not exactly true. Bremerton isn’t spending a penny to build the tunnel, the state and the feds are. Also, the waterfront is designed to appeal to the walk-on ferry rider, not the drive on ferry rider. I ask you now, where is it, exactly, that the drive on ferry rider can go when immediately off the boat? Unless you’re a local, you get funneled onto Burwell and directed to Hwy 3.

    I’ve long thought the pedestrian overpass was a better idea, but I also like the idea of ferry traffic not being an issue for pedestrians and vehicles that want to come down to the waterfront. The tunnel will help alleviate those backups that occur on a regular basis.

    I guess all I’m really saying is that I don’t find the tunnel absolutely necessary, but I also don’t find it to be this “ridiculous waste of money/time/whatever” that many others do.

  7. If we get a tunnel will Seattle get jealous?

    Personally, as a person who commuted on the Bremerton Ferry, I think it is a good idea. People just wanted to get home after spending 12 hours away. The faster you can get me out, the better. It seems to me that the tunnel is such a forward seeing solution that some people are automatically against it without any real reason. It is not only pedestrians that one will have to worry about when traffic increases downtown, but other drivers visiting downtown. The traffic caused in Poulsbo when both Bainbridge and Kingston let out causes slow traffic in Poulsbo and gridlock when an event is happening in Poulsbo. Not only will Bremerton have increased living on the waterfront, but more people will be visiting the downtown area in the future as more restuarants and stores open up downtown.

  8. Please let me know how you feel about the 55,000 of Bremerton resident tax dollars which will be diverted from street repair to tunnel maintenance each year?? Our current rate of paving is about 1 mile per year of our 134 miles of pavement. Pavement lasts about 20 years. This shift in fundng will lower our rate of paving to about 1/2 mile per year unless a new source of street funding is found.

  9. Seems like a wee bit of a straw man argument, in my opinion. Isn’t a fair chunk of that $55K currently going towards repairing the streets that get beat up by the current ferry traffic? It doesn’t sound to me as though we are adding $55K, just reallocating. Explain why this would be otherwise. And, no offense intended, but if the city could attract real retailers and real destination points within the downtown core, that $55K would be pocket change.

  10. The traffic nightmare caused by ferry traffic merging with shipyard traffic will be eliminated by the construction of the tunnel.
    Those people coming to Bremerton from Seattle to visit will be able to turn right on Warren and come back into Downtown. This isn’t a big deal.
    To answer Mike Sheppard’s question about road repairs. The Mayor and City Council are going to fix that with “paid parking”.

  11. Again, seems to me that with an actual tax-base of downtown business that attract workers and commerce, you’ll recoup that $55K in no time flat.

  12. The tunnel project shows me that Bremerton City leaders don’t see the forest for the trees.

    We could have this really nice downtown, but now all the emphasis is on the waterfront where this big retailers are all now congregating with their free covered parking. Meanwhile all the other businesses, who have anchored downtown Bremerton for years get the scraps or get pushed out of downtown due to tunnel construction.

    As a person who ran a viable and thriving downtown business for years (Kitsap Historical Museum) it is very disheartening to see what is happening.

  13. Shocking is the disapearing waterfront, hidden behind new buildings blocking the water view… something that helped make Bremerton charming and quaint.
    I’m sorry the only folks to soon enjoy Bremerton’s waterfront will be the folks inside the new buildings hogging the view.

  14. A key to the tunnel project is the inclusion of an exit lane that will allow vehicles to access Washington. For people who want to head towards the Manette bridge or points north in West Bremerton the avenue for that travel will still exist. All exiting vehicles will not be funneled into the tunnel and out to Burwell.

  15. Thank you.
    Will cyclists have a bike path or be forced to merge into vehicle traffic going into the tunnel or into the same vehicle traffic on the exit road?

  16. Thank you.
    What is the plan for bicycle paths? Will cyclists have to merge with traffic entering the tunnel from the ferry, have their own cycling path, or travel through the same exit with the pedestrians?
    Is the plan for Bremerton to be a bedroom comunity for Seattle folks to live cheaply?
    I ask because while I know folks who get on the ferry for Seattle to stroll around Pioneer Square, the Farmer’s Market, the Space Needle and other interesting walking distance eateries and shops – I don’t know what will attract the Seattle side folks to Bremerton – other than to experience a beautiful ferry ride. Amy Burnett Studio is one reason, but.. is one art studio enough?

  17. No, Amy Burnett’s studio is not enough. Right now, Bremerton is a bedroom community. The plan, near as I can tell, is to get away from that. Worrying about how to attract Seattleites to Bremerton is the wrong approach entirely. Let’s worry about how to keep Kitsap shopping dollars in Bremerton. Right now, there is absolutely NO reason to shop for anything in downtown Bremerton.

  18. 1. Good question Phillip Hamilton. No, none of the proposed $55,000 in tunnel maintenance is currently going to paving repair on state highways in downtown. This is a new cost.

    2. I’ve done some checking with the ferry system and apparently the car ferry traffic has been decreasing in Bremerton for years and the new ferries being designed for Btown will have lower car capacity. So, I (a ferry commuter) have observed and checked with others to find that the traffic problem isn’t so much with cars from the ferry but with the walk ons who are being picked up or are getting their cars from lots and then drive out of downtown. Neither group will be served by the tunnel.

    3. I’ll ask DOT about where the bike commuters will go.

    4. August 23rd meeting of the City Council will include a study session on the tunnel project.

  19. Mike: I don’t think I phrased my question correctly. As I understand the issue, it will take $55K per annum to maintain the tunnel, correct? Currently, there is a budget to maintain the surface streets that are impacted by the off-boat traffic.

    Now, what I’m saying is that it appears to me that the cost of maintaining the surface streets in downtown Bremerton should go down, due to reduced traffic on those streets (particularly Washington and Burwell), thereby offsetting the cost of the tunnel maintenance.

    Also, auto traffic is going down on the Bremerton run, but the ferry runs are going to go up, correct? Right now, the bulk of auto traffic on that run are either residents, or delivery trucks (from my commuter’s eye of those that drive on). I’ll agree that a fair amount of the backup that you get on First and Pacific are from people picking up ferry commuters, but if you reduce the off-boat traffic that they have to wait for (meaning those diverted by the tunnel, of which I will be one), you also reduce the backup.

    Really, all I’m saying here is that I don’t think the tunnel is that big a deal, nor is it the boondoggle some appear to think it is. Again, if some effort would be made (or if these efforts would come to fruition) to attract things like grocers, quality retailers and entertainment options other than the Admiral, the $55K would be taken care of in a jiffy.

  20. Why would anyone not headed for the ferry, shop in Bremerton when they can buy the same thing elsewere, easier?
    Keeping Kitsap dollars in Bremerton ceased being an issue years ago.
    What age population is Bremerton trying to attract?
    Is Bremerton looking toward attracting the fast growing fitness population, the cycling family? If so, give them a user friendly place to live and shop.

    Visit Victoria, Canada for one example of a thriving cycling friendly city.

    Doesn’t Bremerton have a plan in place? A plan beyond building buildings?

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