What the future holds for Warren Avenue

Artist's rendering of what expanded pedestrian access would look like on the Warren Avenue Bridge.
Artist’s rendering of what expanded pedestrian access would look like on the Warren Avenue Bridge.

“The year of torn up street corners.” That’s how Bremerton’s public works department summed up 2016 in Bremerton at a recent city meeting. And no place will have more torn up street corners than Warren Avenue.

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The reason is that the state is gearing up in 2017 to pave Warren Avenue, Wheaton Way, and all of the Highway 303 corridor out to Fairground Road. By doing so, many of the street corners along the way will need to reconstructed to meet current standards for accessibility. That means new curbs, concrete, countdown clocks for pedestrians and other traffic improvements will be installed in 2016. The state will pickup the tab for 34 of 55 curb ramps; the city will pay half of the cost of the rest, which will be about $100,000.

But city officials, including Mayor Patty Lent, have talked about expanding the narrow pedestrian access on the Warren Avenue Bridge. The state, in a $1.2 million project a few years ago, had improved safety crossing the bridge on foot (and on wheels) by making the railings higher. But if you’ve walked it lately, you know it’s a tight fit whenever you encounter anyone on the crossing. Lent and other think it should be fixed, and what better time to do it then while much other construction work is ongoing, they say.

Chal Martin, Bremerton’s public works director, unveiled an artist’s rendering (see above) and a plan for remaking the bridge, at last Tuesday’s city public works meeting. It calls for narrowing the driving lanes (no, no lanes won’t be taken out, unlike the project on Washington Avenue) to make more room for pedestrians. The route is part of the city’s bridge to bridge urban trail, and the city expects it to grow in popularity. But because some of the supporting structure of the bridge has to be reinforced, it comes at quite a cost: about $5 million.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lent, who last week attended the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association in San Francisco, is developing plans for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) up the Warren Avenue Cooridor, and wants ensure any longterm planning has BRT incorporated on the Warren Avenue Bridge. That usually means dedicated lanes on the road for buses, to go with fast and frequent service.

But a bridge that was built almost exclusively for cars may not have much room for much other stuff. I’ve heard from residents concerned about the idea that ‘skinnying’ up the road could lead to more accidents; I’ve also heard from others that say making the lanes smaller will actually slow or “calm” traffic on a roadway that motorists drive like a freeway and one that has too many crashes.

What will the bridge, and the roadways beyond it, look like in a few years? The future holds many variables. What would you like it to look like?

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Washington State Department of Transportation drawings showing the intersections along Warren Avenue and Wheaton Way.

14 thoughts on “What the future holds for Warren Avenue

  1. Warren Ave, including the bridge ha no room for BRT or expansion of side walks. Somebody needs to be slapped for even thinking about this idea.

  2. They should eliminate one sidewalk on the bridge and make the other wider w/o narrowing the existing traffic lanes. The existing divider saves lives and under no circumstances should it be removed (see Aurora Ave Bridge).

  3. Every street I have gone onto today except a main road has pot holes, cement coming up. Significant erosion. All this money being spent in unnecessary projects is becoming very annoying. For one year I have asked the city to fix pavement erring at end of street. There hasn’t been one thing done. It has thrown out my front end alignment to my car. The city has big dreams but let’s us deal with maintaining reality today

  4. Expanding sidewalks on the Warren Ave. bridge by removing the divider between oncoming lanes is ludicrous. If city “visionaries” insist on wider sidewalks, then do as Richard said and make one sidewalk wider and remove the other altogether. (The Manette Bridge only has one sidewalk…..)

  5. If WSDOT is repaving their roadway THEY are responsible for installation of accessible curb ramps per the ADA. Why are local dollars being spent?

    1. Jane, the way city engineer Tom Knuckey explained it was that any work on the road itself — Highway 303 — is in fact the state’s responsibility. But since the curbs curve around onto city streets, the city had to shoulder some of the cost, too.

  6. Wow ….been a few years since I traveled this bridge on a regular basis …remember back to the mid 1960s when there was Toll booths …probably long overdue refurbishment…

  7. A great idea. Bremerton would be a better place with improved walk routes over the Warren Avenue bridge. My experience with BRT in other cities has been that its a game changer for the business community. It improves access and increases foot traffic which means more customers in the area.

  8. So when the sidewalk isn’t wide enough for two people to pass, then one just steps off the curb into the car’s path to make room? Has the person who thought this idea up ever walked across the bridge with all the speeding, roaring traffic? Good grief.

  9. Thanks Josh for keeping us up to date on any and all news regarding Wheaton Way and Warren Avenue. I have been a bicycle commuter for almost 1 year. I primarily ride from Manette to the East Bremerton O’Reilly and back every day. I love and appreciate the fact that there are bike lanes on lower Wheaton Way and now on Washington as well as Kitsap Way! While I try not to ride on the side walks on upper Wheaton Way, riding on the street can be extremely dodgy with an over abundance of inconsiderate drivers or those that are preoccupied with their cell phones. I have rode down the Warren Ave Street bridge just a couple of times on the pedestrian lane, there is just no room with or without shared foot traffic. Riding down Warren Ave on your bike in the road, get ready to ride like a bat out of hell, and then that’s still not fast enough! I welcome any and all changes with open arms, and appreciate all funds that are allocated for said projects!

    1. Thanks, Joyce! There’s a man named Brian Watson who is a local bike instructor. He helps people learn how best to ride in traffic, if there isn’t a bike lane. He can be reached at 479-6399 at his office, if you’re interested!

  10. Why all the fuss about that center divider? If it is such a safety device, why aren’t dividers on every road? Take it out. It will have to go eventually when Lent has her way and the bridge is reduced to one lane each way for traffic to accommodate a bus only lane on each side.
    If anyone would look at the Manette Bridge configuration, they would see why a pedestrian walk on one side works there, and why it won’t fit Warren Ave.

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