NK culvert replacements on tighter schedule than SK’s

The in basket: Bob Corbin of South Kitsap wonders about the pace of work on replacing the culverts that allow Anderson Creek to pass beneath highways 16 and 166 in Gorst.

Crews seem to be working only regular weekday hours, he said. Given the traffic disruptions, he would have expected the work to continue into the evening and weekends.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says the contract for the culvert replacement states only the number of work days allowed to complete the work, with interim deadlines for each of the three culverts associated with the road closures. It  leaves it up to the winning bidder how to schedule it.

In a separate reply to a North Kitsap resident about similar work to replace culverts in the Kingston area this summer, she wrote, in part, “Work (there) will be going on day and night, and people who live nearby should expect to hear night construction noise. We apologize in advance for that disruption, but we wanted to minimize the time the highway would be closed by tightening the construction schedule as much as possible.”

I asked why the tighter construction schedule near Kingston and not near Gorst.

Claudia replied, “When WSDOT designs a project and includes a construction timeframe, we try to balance several issues, including available resources, inconvenience to the public, project costs, quality control, permit requirements, etc. Faster is not always better, as there can be a point of diminishing returns when too many people and too much equipment get in the way of each other.”

“We could force contractors to work around the clock by shortening roadway closure times, but that kind of work schedule greatly increases project costs both for contractors and state staff overseeing the work. Those increased costs get transferred to higher contract bids and more expensive projects.

“This particular project also has the added complication of in-water work restrictions that limit when the contractor can be working in the stream. We looked at all these factors and developed the contract with the conditions that we believe reflected the best approach.”

I saw work going on at the Gorst project in the evening Friday and on Saturday, July 22 and 23, so the contractor seems to have picked up the pace, for whatever reason. And I thought the replacement of the first two of the three Anderson Creek culverts went quite quickly. Still, Claudia says the entire Gorst project is expected to extend into November.

She didn’t say so, but I’d guess the close proximity of the Kingston ferry run, one of the state ferries’ busiest, had a lot to do with the greater pressure for haste there. At least that’s the reason the project was limited to five weekdays for the first of the three culverts there, the one at Grover’s Creek, to avoid the heavy weekend ferry traffic.

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