Category Archives: pedestrians

Washington Avenue Project: Sixth Street to close

Work begins down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Work begins down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

As you may have noticed, work on Washington Avenue has started to ramp up. Crews from RV Associates have closed down Fifth Street at Washington Avenue, mostly to install new stormwater drains as well as some water and sewer pipes.

Next week, it’s going to get crazier, with the closure of Sixth Street at Washington Avenue to do much of the same work they’ve been doing on Fifth. The closure starts Tuesday. Mayor Patty Lent assured me that the city will keep open one of the two roads — Fifth or Sixth — at any given time, so Fifth should be reopened before Sixth closes.

The closure will remain until about May 19, though there will be “intermittent” openings, including for the Armed Forces Day parade on May 16.

This, as frequent readers of this blog know, is only the beginning.

A few weeks from now, northbound Washington roadway, between Sixth and the Manette Bridge, will close. Traffic will be diverted into the southbound lanes while crews put in utilities and install wider sidewalks and bike lanes on the northbound side.

There’s certainly no shortage of roadwork going on right now. A section of Marine Drive was paved with some fanfare recently, a chunk of Trenton Avenue in Manette was, albeit without fanfare. Along with Washington Avenue, Austin Drive near NAD Park will also be repaved this summer.

I’ll keep you posted on these city projects. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way.

A few resources:

Phase I & II Traffic Control Plan (PDF) or the temporary Phase III Traffic Control Plan (PDF)

Come walk the new Wheaton Way with me

Little known fact: there’s actually no such thing as “Lower,” or even “Old” Wheaton Way. It’s just a title we Bremerton residents use to distinguish a meandering little thoroughfare from the much larger commercial corridor nearby.

Roots of the road date back to the 1920s. Once lined with popular spots like the Maple Leaf Tavern and the hopping Bay Bowl, it became an oddly wide street with only a few businesses left (the Bay Bowl, I should add, is now home to a Thai restaurant).

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But “Lower” Wheaton Way, as it became when the Warren Avenue Bridge was built, was just reconstructed, adding wide sidewalks, bike lanes, street lamps and a new surface.

At noon on Saturday, I invite you to come out and walk this nearly mile-long stretch of revamped roadway. We’ll tell tales of its history, discuss its transformation and contemplate its future.

We’ll meet at Whitey Domstad Park, the little green space next to the Manette Bridge roundabout and just above the Boat Shed restaurant.

And speaking of local merchants, the Boat Shed and FOUND in Manette have agreed to offer 10 percent off to those who go on the Story Walk, and The Weekender on East 11th will take 15 percent off an item that day following the walk.

This is the fourth story walk of the year. Here’s links to our previous walks:

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

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A Manette miracle: Lower Wheaton will soon get paved

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Somebody pinch me. Months overdue, the Lower Wheaton Way project is nearing completion. The $3.4 million overhaul of the road, between Lebo Boulevard and the Manette Bridge, is set for its final push April 11, when crews will do the final paving of the stretch.

It’s been a long time coming. The project, which began in spring 2014, was slated to be completed at the end of 2014. But it will soon be done, assuming the weather cooperates.

 

The city plans to close down the entire stretch the whole day. I repeat: you do not want to try to drive anywhere near Lower Wheaton Way on April 11.

But of course, Mother Nature will play a role.

“The limiting factor in paving this time of year is the weather,” said Eduardo Aban, the city’s engineer in charge of the project. “The surface temperature must be 45 degrees and rising, and the surface must be dry. If the weather is unfavorable, we’ll target the following Saturday until the weather complies with the specification.”

If all goes well, the week before paving — April 6-10 — will be used for prep work. That means asphalt grinding and “prelevel-paving” to get the road ready for the big closure. So expect delays then too.

Already, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the tall, green street lights have been illuminated at night time, as well as many residents taking advantage of the new sidewalks on both sides of the stretch. Remember, this was a highway installed in the 1920s that has never had much in the way of sidewalk access, let alone 10-foot pedestrian walkways that run the length of the East Bremerton portion of the Bridge to Bridge trail.

I’ll keep you posted with construction updates.

 

 

Story Walk: Come see the meandering Madrona with me

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If you’re not busy Saturday afternoon, have I got an offer for you. Have you ever hiked the 16 acres of trails in the Eastpark Nature Area? It includes a rare grove of Madrona trees (see above) in pathways that bridge Harrison Medical Center and the new Eastpark neighborhood.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 8.57.56 PMWe’ll talk about this magnificent conifers and walk this relatively unknown East Bremerton trail network.

Here’s the details:

What: Reporter Josh Farley leads a 30-minute hike through the Madrona grove and woods of the Eastpark Nature Area.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where to meet: Parking lot near the Manette Mart, 2044 Lower Wheaton Way.

Note: Wear hiking attire and be prepared for a mile (or two) of hiking.

Background: The city’s parks commission has recommended the Eastpark Nature Reserve be renamed to to be the “Madrona Trails.” Signs will be added to its entrances at Lower Wheaton Way and on Nathan Adrian Drive near the Bremerton Family YMCA. The hope is to attract more attention to the park.

Hope to see you Saturday for this free talk and tour!

Here’s a link to our previous story walks:

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

 

The towers are for hoses (or ten things I learned about Bremerton in 2014)

Happy new year, Bremerton! Here’s a list of the 10 most interesting things I learned about Bremerton in 2014.

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1. Bremerton’s red light camera experiment is sputtering

The first year of Bremerton’s red light cameras brought in almost $850,000 for the city. Since, that amount has basically been in free fall.

In 2015, if history serves, it will barely bring in any revenue for the city at all.

Combine that with inconclusive evidence they do much to promote safety at intersections and a scandal that has embroiled the company to which Bremerton pays $432,000 a year in operational fees, and the cameras may not last much longer. Mayor Patty Lent has signaled she’d get rid of them if they become a cost for the city.

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2. Bremerton’s rate of violent crime is plummeting

I rode with Bremerton Police in every shift possible the first year I worked at the Kitsap Sun. I’d routinely witness drunken fights, domestic assaults and even a Tasering (interesting if sad story, ask me about it sometime).

That was 2005, the year Bremerton held the dubious distinction of being no. 1 in violent crime per capita in the state of Washington.

Yes, Bremerton still has its share of crime. But its violent crime rate is half what it was in 2005 — 11.7 incidents per thousand then to 5.7 in 2013, according to FBI statistics. That’s a pretty remarkable drop. There’s lots of reasons why — rising homeownership, renewed parks and focused policing to name a few — which you can learn about here.

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3. Those tires won’t remove themselves

Spare a tire? The police shooting range west of Gorst, within Bremerton’s watershed property, has plenty of them. In fact, the city has spent in excess of $12,000 removing them about 8,500 of them, and more may be spent.

The police department thought they might need them for training but at a certain point, Public Works Director Chal Martin said they had to go. How they got there was actually even investigated by a separate police agency. Ultimately, no wrongdoing was assigned.

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4. It’s the water

Meanwhile in the Bremerton watershed, another little brouhaha cascaded from the headwaters of the Union River. The city built a dam in the 1950s and has used the water above it as the bulk of the drinking water for around 1/3 of Kitsap County’s residents.

Because the lake is remote — like 3,000 acres around it remote — the state doesn’t require Bremerton to filter its water supply (though the water is treated with chlorine and ultraviolet light).

City officials are adamant the land around it stay preserved. The city went so far as to release photos this year of trespassers — poachers, hikers and bikers — using the area.

Some wonder if the city couldn’t lighten up a bit, and a countywide trail is being contemplated for the total 8,000 acre parcel the city owns, where the city also has a golf course and the police shooting range (and by the way, anyone need some extra tires?).

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5. The towers were for the hoses

Why, when you see old fire stations do they have towers that rise into the sky from their basic structures?

Hoses.

Turns out fire hoses used to be made of cotton, which needed to be hung up to dry after fighting a fire. If they weren’t dried properly, they’d mold. Today’s hoses are synthetic.

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6. There’s redwoods in them there sewer towers

Speaking of towers — a somewhat routine at the city’s sewer treatment plant contains an interesting tidbit.

Some giant filters made of redwood trees are being retired out. While the new material is plastic , the redwoods, from the 1980s, have broken down but may have a second life as beauty bark (Or bark. Or mulch. Or whatever term you like).

Public works officials say the city will use it around its properties, maybe even parks, if its environmentally safe to do so.

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7.  Bye bye Maple Leaf, may your sign be immortal

Yes, we said goodbye to the Maple Leaf Tavern in 2014. The place was unrivaled in its around 77 years tending bar in Kitsap County. But the now fabled Lower Wheaton Way watering hole closed due to nonpayment of $25,000 in taxes, in 2010. And city engineers saw it as a chance to clear some needed room for the Lower Wheaton Way project earlier this year, tearing it down for $18,000.

Breakfast at Sally’s author Richard LeMieux called its slanted floor — you have to admit it had been worn down in recent years — the feel of “one of those oblique fun houses with a moving floor” that actually got more stable as you drank.

Rest in peace, Maple Leaf.

I get asked a lot about if its storied sign was preserved. The answer: yes. It is in the capable hands of the Kitsap Historical Society.

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8. The ‘Mo-Sai’ Bank Building has the state’s most complex Carillon system

A longtime curiosity of mine was satisfied when I was learning about the bells on the roof of the Chase Bank building at Fifth and Pacific this year. That odd facade on the building giving it the look of a vertical beach? It’s called Mo-Sai, and the architects used this rock peppering as a way to reflect the Northwest’s rugged terrain. Huh.

It certainly is unique. But up on its roof are the speakers that play Bremerton’s Carillon system. Probably the most complete in the Pacific Northwest. Yep, they’re real bells. And they played on a snowy Christmas Eve, 1971, for the first time.

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9. So that all may play

When all was said and done, around $500,000 and countless volunteer hours had made Kitsap County’s first all-accessible playground possible.

The playground, inside Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park, is almost always packed when the weather’s nice. Hard to believe how quickly it came along — a testament to what the community can do when it comes together.

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10. Mudslides in Schley Canyon

Fish passable? What about a mudslide? The state views Schley Canyon, that land cavity that cuts Manette from the rest of East Bremerton (or does it? The boundaries, to be fair, are unclear) as one fish could head up, or fish passable. The city says the little crevasse’s just a drainage and it doesn’t need to pay millions of dollars to replace the 1927 culvert over it at Lower Wheaton Way.

But the canyon has had a slide once when rains get too heavy. A geologist told me the canyon’s probably not a huge slide hazard. But it’s something Mayor Patty Lent said recently she’d like to further examine to be sure.

Honorable mentions:

  • *Many are just convinced the apartments at 704 Chester Avenue are haunted. Even the skeptics have to agree the building does have a long, and sometimes spooky history. It served as the site of Harrison’s first hospital and was later converted into apartments. Bremerton native and Washington State Legislator Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s low-income housing nonprofit improved the complex in the early 2000s, but residents there still say there’s still strange noises at odd hours.
  • *No new homes — or any structures — can be built out over the waters of Puget Sound. But the homes that remain on the water near the Bremerton Boardwalk enjoy a “grandfathered” and can stay for as long as they’d like as long as they’re maintained.

Are there any I missed you’d like to add?

LIVE BLOG: Which Washington Avenue option will the Bremerton City Council pick?

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Tonight, the Bremerton City Council will discuss the four options for the $1.7 million in pedestrian and bicycle improvements for Washington Avenue.

We’ll follow the discussion live below, starting at 5 p.m. There are several topics to be tackled before the Washington Avenue portion of the meeting, but I will keep you posted along the way.

Here’s the options:

1. The original option: City engineers envisioned a simple road “diet” for the stretch of Washington between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge, in which a four lane road would become a two lane one. That will make room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the road, as well as additional lighting, but it would cut vehicular capacity in half.

2. The modified option: Following the road test, in which angry commuters gave public works crews an earful about traffic backups, public works crews came up with a modified proposal. Under this option, the waterside (or east side) of the road’s dated concrete median would still be reduced to one lane to make room for the pedestrian and bicycle improvements. But the upper (or west side) portion of the median would become a two way street, with minimal bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements being installed on that side (a combined bike-pedestrian lane would be added).

3. The one-way option: Also dreamed up after the road test, the option sees the road cut down from four lanes to two, but all lanes would be one-way northbound, with southbound drivers having to go to Pacific Avenue to get downtown.

4. The do nothing option: The city could just give the money back and forgo the improvements altogether.

You shall not pass: city targets Manette Bridge speeders 

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At Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent singled out deviant motorists who pass other cars on Manette Bridge. She said her office has received some complaints about the passers, mainly those who speed around other drivers heading toward downtown, just past the roundabout.

The mayor invited Steve Strachan, Bremerton police chief, before the Council to address the issue. He said police would be vigilant about looking out for passers, and indicated that motorists face a minimum $124 fine for doing it.

“Well be keeping our eye out,” Strachan said.

I had not heard of these violators but those of us that live in Bremerton are used to seeing aggressive driving. Similarly, concerns have been raised about pedestrians crossing the road at the base of the bridge near the roundabout, a problem summed up recently by the Road Warrior, Travis Baker.

In one more related note: following the mayor’s report, Vern LaPrath, an East Bremerton resident, reminded the Council Wednesday night that he’s still waiting for speed humps on Hanford Avenue. He’s been advocating for them for longer than a decade. And on Wednesday night, it wasn’t just LaPrath, but two other Hanford Avenue residents, that desired to have them.

“It’s not just the cranky old man on Hanford Avenue,” LaPrath said.

City Councilman Dino Davis, chair of the city’s public works committee, responded by saying he hopes a project adding speed humps will be slated for 2015.