The in basket: I joined an estimated 100 volunteers in cleaning up the badly overgrown median in Highway 304 coming into Bremerton last Saturday.
The combined effort made impressive progress between 9 a.m. and noon, getting from the First Street intersection westward to almost past the Kitsap Transit maintenance shop.
At noon, after downing a couple pieces of the many pizzas the city had provided for the workers, I decided not to push my just-turned-70-year-old body any further and left.
But I felt sure those who remained would be able to finish the short distance to Farragut Avenue in the remaining three hours the event was scheduled. Maybe they’d even get across Farragut to the median on the other side, I thought, though that would have mean moving the inside lane closures for the safety of the workers to the west.
Though it was a volunteer effort, it was clear the city had put a lot of money and effort into it, between closing the inside lanes, deploying electric signs to warn of them, equipment and truck drivers to haul away the displaced weeds and dump garden bark, manning the sign-up tent, and providing gloves and yellow vests for the workers.
When I came back through at 3:10 I was surprised that not much more had been done. It looked like it must have ended early.
I asked Public Works Director Chal Martin, whom I had met working in the median, what happened.
The out basket: “Several things,” Chal said. “There were sections where the going
was tougher and we ran into tougher work at the far end.”
And I wasn’t the only one who left at half-time.
“We lost some folks after lunch,” he said.
“Finally, at about 1:30, it became apparent that
people were getting tired and tired equates to a safety issue — we noticed several volunteers being less aware of the work zone and stepping out into the travel lanes. “So we began migrating folks to the exits.”
They’d intended to use the last hour to remove the lane closures anyway, he said. And parks officials had told him even before the event that volunteers get predictably tired if you go longer than four hours.
“I was disappointed to not get the first section done,” Chal said. “But this was a learning exercise. I think that in general, we learned a lot and accomplished a lot.
“But, of course, we need to get out there again and
complete the first section. This needs to be done in November.”
They’ll meet at the parks department building on Lebo Boulevard Friday afternoon to plan the next step.