History was made this weekend at Bremerton National
Airport this weekend. Almost 700 aircraft were joined by
1,000 cars and 4,000 people for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association‘s Bremerton fly-in Friday and Saturday.
“I thought it was awesome,” Fred Salisbury, the
airport’s director, was quoted as
saying on AOPA’s web site. “That back runway probably hasn’t
seen aircraft for fifty years and it was packed with parked
airplanes all the way down.”
I spent some time Saturday morning just perusing the planes. It
was like a massive vintage car show except all the vehicles had
wings and took to the skies with great frequency. I found aircraft
made all over the world, to include everything from classic
biplanes to modern private jets.
Sun Reporter Tad Sooter wrote
recently of the economic impacts the fly-in, one of four the
AOPA holds each year around the nation, would have on Bremerton and
Kitsap County. Seems likely those expectations were eclipsed.
UPDATE, Dec. 11: City
officials announced Friday that Washington Avenue will reopen to
traffic on mid-day, Monday, Dec. 14. Some work continues that could
result in intermittent closures but the roadway, including the
intersections at Fifth and Sixth streets will finally be
At long last, paving’s been completed on
Washington Avenue and drivers will see some relief on their
afternoon commutes home.
The city has chosen to keep the southbound lane of
Washington closed until mid-December, in order to get a few more
tasks completed and so it does not further confuse drivers,
according to Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin.
“Since folks are used to the one-lane northbound
configuration and the intersection closure, we think it is best
overall to get the work done right with fewer disruptions,” Martin
“Since we only have one lane to work with each way
now, it really makes it much more difficult to get the big trucks
in, and have the room they need to work safely,” Martin said.
The $3.5 million project has narrowed the roadway from four
lanes to two, which made room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes.
The project is also completing a new sewer line that will allow the
city to abandon an environmentally sensitive sewer line on the
Once most of the road work’s done, the crews will be
able to finish off the work at Evergreen-Rotary Park. Now that the
aforementioned sewer beach line will be defunct, there’s no need
for a pump station, roadway and power lines through the middle of
the park. Crews will take those things out and fully connect the
original park with the new 9/11 Memorial via grass and
Here’s the city’s timeline — not quite the October
completion they’d expected.
Paving complete – Thursday, October 15th
Street lights installed and operational – October
Landscaping on Washington – October 30th
Park construction – October 30th to December
Underground (electrical) conversion complete and
street fully reopened – December 18th
“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.
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
But city officials, including Mayor Patty Lent, have talked
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,
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
Meanwhile, Mayor Lent, who last week attended the annual meeting
of the American Public
Transportation Association in San Francisco, is developing
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
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?
I was startled on my commute this morning to find
asphalt — yes asphalt — where concrete sidewalks should be on the
$3.5 million Washington Avenue project.
As you can see from the photo above, it basically looks like
there’s another street where
sidewalks should be. So what gives?
City officials said in an email earlier this week that yes,
asphalt will have to do on the eastern Washington Avenue sidewalk,
between Sixth and Fifth streets. The reason is that there’s a
proposed development, once called the “Towers
Project,” that the city believes will simply rip the street
open again when construction on it begins.
The reason for their confidence: the development,
begun by Absher Construction, paid upwards of $200,000 for the
city to bury power lines on Washington between Sixth and Fifth
streets. That suggests the project is not just one for the
community development department shelves but that they’re serious
about getting going.
Still, it looks odd, don’t you think?
Other project updates: On Monday, work will
shift to the western side of Washington Avenue. That means that
northbound traffic on Washington will take up the new lane on the
east side, with the western side closed down. There won’t be any
southbound traffic allowed on Washington, and the intersections at
Fifth and Sixth streets will be closed. Contractor RV Associates estimates it
will take seven to eight weeks to complete the western work.
When completed in mid-October — that’s the hope anyway — the
project will have taken the road from four lanes to two, added
wider sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping and decorative
The project also includes the linking of the 9/11 Memorial park
with the wider Evergreen-Rotary Park. In mid-September, crews will
demolish the old end of Highland Avenue and a sewer pump house
there. They’ll plant grass, put in new pathways and create a new
viewing platform of the Port Washington Narrows. Personally, I am
really looking forward to seeing the new park, the design of which
you can see below.
If you’ve been on Washington Avenue lately, you know
it’s quite a mess. But the
$3.5 million project hit a major milestone Tuesday when the
first of its new curbs were placed along the northbound portion of
Many engineers have told me of the importance of the placing of
the curbs. It signifies a road project’s transition from below
ground work to surface construction. And, in this particular
project, the curb placement gives us the first look at a sized-down
roadway — and how much wider the sidewalks will be.
The project is adding those wider sidewalks, bike lanes and
street lights to both sides of the road, between the Manette Bridge
and Fifth Street. The roadway will be permanently dropped from two
lanes to one in each direction.
Associates has already added new water, sewer and stormwater
pipes underneath the road. Other utilities have also been placed
underground, including burying the power lines between Fifth and
Now, they’ll finish up the northbound street, pouring new
concrete sidewalks and laying asphalt. There’s a good chance that
work will be completed next week.
Following that, work will transition to the southbound side, or
“upper” lanes. The project is slated for completion in October.
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.
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.
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
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
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,”
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.
As a Bremerton resident who just renewed my car tabs, I
was reminded that we fork over an extra $20 each year to help
maintain Bremerton’s roads.
And what is that extra Andrew Jackson going to buy in Bremerton,
The fund — which generates around $350,000 a year — goes toward
street upkeep. The city’s street department seals in cracks, tears
out craggily sections of roadway and patches them, and utilizes
other quick fixes aimed at extending a road’s life.
But at a Feb. 5 meeting of the Transportation
Benefit District (TBD) board — which is really just the
Bremerton City Council, but with a fancy title that authorizes them
to spend the car tab money — its members authorized spending
$250,000 for the Old Wheaton Way project.
The project, which will put in a new street and sidewalks along
Old Wheaton from Lebo Boulevard to the Manette Bridge,
doesn’t have enough existing funds for completion. Most of the
funding is coming from a $1.4 million state grant. The TBD money
gets the city closer to installing all of the project’s components,
including street lighting, according to Bremerton Public Works
Director Chal Martin.
The TBD board approved a total $750,000 tab for road projects,
in excess of what it collects per year but a doable amount because
of reserves the TBD fund had built up in its first year and a half
I’ll have a more detailed story in the Kitsap Sun in the coming
days. In the meantime, drop a line and let me know what you think
of the car tab fee and what it’s spent on.
Angela Dice, the Kitsap Sun’s Web know-it-all, sent me a link to
what is a really cool visual of Bremerton’s
waterfront potential. The videos adorn you with a virtual jet pack
as you hover over the new marina and whisk by condos, many of which
have not been built, or purchased.
The second video, though, made me wonder how respect for the law
was envisioned as part of Bremerton’s future culture. Once the most
violent city per capita in the state, (You weren’t far behind, Port
Orchard, so stop snickering.) the new developments and resulting
bustle of law abiding citizens were bound to change the personality
of the city. However, it appears the designers envisioned a new
form of lawlessness in which bus drivers consider traditional lane
direction rules to be optional.