Tag Archives: bridge

Kitsapper has some 520 bridge questions

The in basket: Dr. Larry Iversen writes, “Even though the 520 bridge is on the other side of Puget Sound, as a major highway, it does impact all of us who will travel across Lake Washington.

“Questions:  1) Why tear down the old 520 bridge?  Why not renovate it and use it like what was done with the Tacoma Narrows old bridge?

“2) How will the new bridge traffic blend with I-5 OR is the plan to narrow and divert the new bridge traffic with the existing highway between Montlake and I-5?

The out basket: Steve Peer, the state’s SR 520 media and construction communications manager, fielded this one and said, “After more than a half century of use, the existing floating bridge is showing its age and has become vulnerable to windstorms. The bridge approaches, with columns attached to land, are susceptible to earthquakes.

“The new floating bridge adds HOV lanes in both directions which will connect to future improvements that will add the same westward toward I-5. It also boasts a 14-foot shared-use path for bicycles and pedestrians.

“Once connected to the west approach, currently being constructed, non-motorized traffic will be able to cross Lake Washington from the Eastside to Seattle.

“Traffic from the new floating bridge will narrow and move onto the existing highway with a temporary connection bridge. In summer 2017, WSDOT will complete the westbound lanes between the new floating bridge and Montlake. “Then, in 2018 WSDOT will start the Rest of the West project which will improve regional mobility with the addition of dedicated HOV lanes across the entire SR 520 corridor, in both directions from Redmond to I-5.”

If the Rest of the West online link Steve provided doesn’t automatically take you there, or if you’re reading this in the newspaper, it can be accessed online via wsdot.wa.gov.

Gorst traffic called dangerous and congested

The in basket: JoAnne Stefanac wrote on March 16, “I see, yet again today, another accident in Gorst.  This time, northbound, which is not unusual for the AM commute.
“It seems as though, about once a week, we have some kind of accident in the stretch between the Tremont exit and the (Highway) 304 exit.  Some more severe than others, of course.  This morning, I was listening to KIRO radio and the traffic guy there said the backup was four miles due to the crash.
“Whenever there’s a crash, big backups ensue. I don’t think there are backups on a REGULAR (non-crash) day, but one little fender bender and then it’s a problem.
“The question is, how many MORE accidents, fender benders, injuries, deaths, and 3-5 (or more) mile inching-along backups do we have to have before SOMETHING is done about this particular stretch of road? Is anyone even keeping track of the mayhem that happens along this stretch most days?  It’s just so scary to drive along there.
“Seems you take your life in your hands and I feel for those who are subjected to it on a daily basis,” she said.
A somewhat related comment comes from Tom Baker, who e-mails to say, “I am starting to hear about a WSDOT project to replace  the Anderson Creek culvert, near where Anderson Hill Road SW intersects with Highway16.
“This project, and its traffic impacts, will certainly bring up a discussion of a Sinclair Inlet bridge (that would bypass Gorst). This subject comes up quite frequently, everyone says it should be done, but no real discussion of what it would cost and if it’s even feasible. One proposal was to create a bridge using mothballed aircraft carriers.
 “Can you dig into this, and see if WSDOT has ever considered this, along with costs and if its even possible?”
The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “WSDOT has a traffic study under way in that area. Funded by a grant received by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, part of the study will analyze traffic patterns and crash data through Gorst. The study is a necessary step toward identifying any future improvements through the area.”
She also reminded us of work expected in 2017 to revise the junction of highways 3 and 304 near Bremerton to let both southbound lanes of 3 continue through and require out-bound Bremerton traffic to enter at an on-ramp, which will affect traffic in the opposite direction of what JoAnne mentions.
I imagine that whatever consideration a bridge over Sinclair Inlet gets, it would be part of the traffic study. I’ve always heard that the shortest crossing presents significant steepness problems between the South Kitsap side and the Bremerton side, a serious issue when it’s icy or snowing.
Claudia said she had no comment on the subject of such a bridge.

Will Narrows Bridge ever be toll-free?

The in basket: Melinda Knapp asks, “Is there a place where we can see the breakdown on how much has been collected and paid toward the price of building the (Tacoma Narrows) bridge?  Will this toll always be in place or will it be discontinued when the bridge has been ‘paid for’?

The out basket: The plan from the beginning has been for the tolls to retire the bonds that paid for the bridge in 2030, and that the bridge would become toll-free then. That still is the expectation, says Annie Johnson of the state’s Good to Go! toll office.

Projections before the bridge opened were that the toll would be $6 per crossing by 2016 and stay there through 2030, but that didn’t differentiate between various kinds of tolls, and may not have even envisioned license plate tolling. And as we have seen, raising the tolls is a political process involving a citizens committee and the state Transportation Commission.

“We do post quarterly financial statements for all our toll facilities online,” Annie said. “You and your readers can find the Tacoma Narrows Bridge financial statements online at  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/TNBTolling/TNBLibrary.htm.


Salmon enhancement’s role in Kitsap County road projects

The in basket: In reviewing the current six-year road plan for Kitsap County, called the TIP and projecting out to 2017, I was struck by the large number of culvert replacement jobs on it. They almost outnumber other kinds of work.

I asked county public works officials if they’d argue with the notion that salmon enhancement has become as much a priority as moving vehicles in planning their road projects.

The out basket: County Engineer Jon Brand said, yes, he ‘d argue with that.

“I would disagree  that the road plan has evolved into a salmon enhancement program,” Jon said.  “There’s no doubt, however, that salmon enhancement has become a major factor in the road division’s maintenance, preservation and construction programs.

“There are only three salmon enhancement projects on the adopted 2012-2017 TIP,” he said. “These are the South Kingston (Carpenter Creek) Bridge (#7), Kitty Hawk Drive (#17) and the Bethel-Burley Road Bridge (#45).  Carpenter Creek was 100 per cent grant-funded, Kitty Hawk is the county’s share of a Suquamish Tribe enhancement project and Bethel Burley is an identified barrier.  But, of course, it’s not that simple.

“Since about 1995,” he said, ” the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Kitsap County have maintained a prioritized database of county-owned fish passage barriers.  These are typically culverts that restrict fish movement because of velocity, vertical drop or depth issues.

“The county has a responsibility to address these barriers and since 1997 Public Works has spent over $8 million resolving 26 barriers (through the road and storm and surface water management divisions).  These were projects originally conceived of as salmon enhancement projects.  The database has changed in character as new projects have been identified and added to the barrier list.  Existing culverts requiring replacement because they’re deteriorated or too small, have been inspected for fish passage and added to the barrier list as applicable.


The other part of the story is that there are thousands of existing county-owned culverts and bridges that fall under the jurisdiction of (Fish and Wildlife), the Corps of Engineers and others.

Sometimes bad things happen like a major storm ala Hite Center (#11) or Hunter Road (#13).  Other times, structurally deficient bridges and culverts have to be repaired or replaced to maintain safe and reliable access, like Southworth Drive (#3), Stavis Bay (#4) Wildcat Lake (#12) and others.

“When work takes place in fish-bearing waters, the county is required to meet current requirements, and that means the project has to maintain or enhance fish passage.  These requirements are also applied to road widening projects, like Bucklin Hill Road (#21).

“Other culvert projects on the TIP may not involve fish at all,” Jon said.  “These typically involve replacement of a deteriorated culvert for maintenance purposes like Eastview (#9, Miami Beach (#6), and Southworth Drive (#33, 34).”

To conserve space I haven’t described these projects very fully. You can learn more by going on line at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/sixyear_tip.htm and reading it yourself.


Short block of Pitt may impede new Manette bridge’s traffic

The in basket: Ralph Gribbin and Gary Blankenship are hoping the new traffic pattern in Manette with the opening of its new bridge will be smoothed with some changes on the short block of Pitt Avenue between Harkins and East 11th Street.

“What are the city’s plans for the streets leading to the bridge?” Gary asked. “At the very least, shouldn’t parking along (that part of Pitt) be stopped? Better, shouldn’t it be widened?”

Ralph would go further. “Ever since the old bridge was closed, Manette traffic has had to go straight through on Harkins to Pitt, stop, turn right on Pitt for one short block and stop at 11th Street before turning left onto it,” he wrote.

“Leaving those two stop signs where they are stops the smooth flow of traffic from the bridge to 11th and up to Perry and Trenton avenues.

“Removing those two stop signs, placing a Yield sign on westbound 11th just before Pitt, and a stop sign on eastbound 11th just before Pitt  would make this the thoroughfare that should exist in that area.

“The same basic layout has existed at Trenton Avenue and 11th for years without any problem,” he said.

The out basket: I drove around there and it does have all the earmarks of a bottleneck, with little room for anything very large to make the turn if there is oncoming traffic.

The city of Bremerton is taking a wait-and-see approach to this, says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city engineers office, to see what drivers do naturally.

“The city had numerous conversations with (the state) about the after-configuration of the streets in Manette,” he said. “… What was decided was to wait a bit after the new bridge was open to see how traffic reacted with the new configuration. Often it just takes a couple of weeks for issues to iron themselves out and drivers to adjust to the new situation, and we did not want to spend unnecessary effort for signage and the like.”

There will be some changes made in that area, probably next year, but they’re not intended to help the flow to and from the bridge.

“The project is a Low Impact Development street project,” Gunnar said, “similar to what occurred on Pacific Avenue with pervious paving, rain gardens, etc…

“We will be going from the west end of (East) 11th Street, east as far as the money will allow us. We originally were trying to make it to Perry Avenue, but with the funding received, are trying to at least make it to Scott, but it may just be to Pitt.

“It should be a good complement to the redone Whitey Domstad viewscape,” he said.




Is new Manette Bridge roundabout too small for big trucks?

The in basket: I heard second hand at the dentist’s office Thursday that one of Kitsap Transit’s worker/driver buses had had a hard time getting around the new roundabout being opened at the end of the Manette Bridge in Bremerton. The driver had to back up to maneuver his way around it, the report said.

It might have resulted from the driver’s unfamiliarity with the just-opened roundabout, I remarked.

It reminded me that Gary Reed had e-mailed on Oct. 6 to ask, “Is the roundabout on the Manette-side sized to allow buses, semi trucks, and fire trucks to safely negotiate it, or will there be a vehicle length restriction?

“It looks pretty small,” he said.

The out basket: Jeff Cook, project engineer for the bridge project said at the time, “There are no length restrictions being imposed on the bridge.  The design vehicle for this particular roundabout was the longest bus in the Kitsap Transit fleet.

“Keep in mind there are two components of a roundabout when it comes to traversable areas.  The first is the asphalt itself.  The second is the truck apron.  The truck apron is the concrete circle between the asphalt and the roundabout stubwall.  By definition it is “a raised section…around the central island that acts as an extra lane for large vehicles.

“The back wheels of the oversize vehicle can ride up on the truck apron so the truck can easily complete the turn, while the raised portion of concrete discourages use by smaller vehicles.”

John Clauson of Kitsap Transit confirmed that a worker-driver bus had run into trouble getting around the circle. State officials called them Thursday,” John said,  “asking us to bring out a bus so they could see just where the problem was. Our experience during that exercise was the same as the Worker/Driver.” I’m not sure where this will lead.


Counting days for SK roundabout and bridge projects

The in basket: I drove past the new roundabout at Lake Flora and JM Dickenson roads in rural South Kitsap on Oct. 1, going past a sign as I did saying road work there will continue into November. It looked to me like it’s ready to handle traffic now.

I asked if it’s ahead of schedule.

While I was at it, I asked for an update on the South Colby bridge project and closure of Southworth Drive and prospects for its carrying into March.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, construction manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says, “Lake Flora is moving along well and should be completed in October, weather permitting.”

As for the bridge and its road closure, Jacque said, “The contractor there experienced some challenges excavating for channel widening due to excessive groundwater and working around the tides.

“That work is complete and they are moving into major bridge construction activities. Drilled shafts are complete and the cap, abutment wall and wing walls on the west side of the bridge are finished.

“The project is still scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year, weather permitting,” Jacque said.

The nuts and bolts of removing old bridge’s nuts, bolts and concrete

The in basket: As I crossed the Warren Avenue Bridge in Bremerton one recent day and looked over at the old Manette Bridge, fated for demolition this fall and winter, my thoughts flashed to the fact that most of the fallen portions of Galloping Gertie, the original, short-lived Tacoma Narrows Bridge, are said to remain where they fell, at the bottom of the narrows.

I wondered if any part of the Manette Bridge would wind up on the bottom of its narrows.

The out basket: It was a timely curiosity, as state engineers were grappling at that very moment with ways to make sure the answer is no, the old Manette Bridge will be removed in its entirety.

They turned out a news release soon afterward, detailing how the underwater portions of the old bridge will be removed under a separate contract. Their original plans for the removal were judged too likely to make the crumbled concrete unretrievable. There was a story about it in the Sept. 17 Sun.

Project Engineer Jeff Cook has provided me with further details.

The majority of the removal will be done under the construction contract with Manson-Mowat.

The road surface already has been removed.  This fall, the steel parts of the bridge will be lifted in chunks of up to 250 tons, put on a barge and cut up for transport off-site. The steel center truss, the visual identity of the old bridge, will be the last steel part removed.

Then crews will use what’s called a hoe ram, described as a huge jackhammer, to “rubblize” the above-water parts of the concrete uprights that support the bridge.

The chunks will fall onto a platform of planks laid between two barges to be positioned on each side of the pier being destroyed, Jeff said. The barges and planks will be covered in sand to keep the falling detritus from bouncing into the water.

When the platforms hold as much as they can, the barges will be moved to Tacoma to be unloaded, Jeff said. It may take more than one trip.

“Nothing is allowed to drop into the water,” he said. “The contractor will be required to fully contain all pieces that are picked and removed during demolition.”

The below-water parts of the bridge will fall to the bottom, but will be contained within steel coffer cells that will limit the area from which the rubble must be removed, Jeff said.

No one will ever accuse me of being an environmentalist, so I’m anxious to hear from those who consider themselves to be whether this doesn’t all seem a bit much. Particularly, the importance of keeping out of the water crumbled parts of concrete structures that have sat intact in that same water for 80-some years seems like costly overkill.

Tidying up inquiries on South Colby bridge job

The in basket: A commenter going by Verdann on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com is among some readers who read the entry saying the South Colby bridge being replaced will be done by December and wondered why the static signs posted just before Southworth Drive is closed say March.

And The Judybaker, my wife, said she had wrongly concluded that the job was done already because the being electronic message board on Mile Hill Drive near Baby Doll Road had been removed.

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, which has contracted the job, says, “The project contract runs through December, and we expect the project will be completed by then.

“(But) because major components of the project are scheduled during the fall when inclement weather can delay and postpone work, we’ve asked for an additional window of time to allow for weather-related delays. This allows delayed work to be rescheduled without further resolution from the Board of County Commissioners.

“The bridge will be opened to traffic as soon as the work is completed,” Doug said.

As for removal of the electronic sign, he said, it “was intended to be placed for a limited time.  It helps increase awareness for regular commuters that the project is starting.

“We have a limited number of these types of signs and use them for road projects throughout the county, and move them frequently. There are signs near the project site routing infrequent users to detour routes.”

What’s holding up work on closed SK bridge?

The in basket: Danielle Garringer asked back on July 24 what was holding up work on the bridge in South Colby, replacement of which has closed Southworth Drive for over a month.

I had noticed on July 10 that nothing much seemed to have gotten done.

“Our normal little drive into Manchester or even to get down Mile Hill is very hard now with the bridge all blocked off because they are supposedly tearing it down,” Danielle wrote. “Only thing is, it’s been a month and the bridge is still standing, At least tear it down so I feel like driving all the way around is justifiable! I kind of feel like my 5-year-old could tear it down faster than they are.”

Tuesday morning I visited the site and saw that a wrecking ball finally was pounding away at the old bridge.

I asked what has been going on.

The out basket: Danielle and I (and I’d guess most people) assumed that the replacement of a bridge would begin with demolition of the old one. We were wrong.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works says, “The project is on schedule. They have completed construction of the drilled shafts (pile supports) for the new bridge.  There are eight shafts, 4.5 feet in diameter, 55 feet deep on the east side, 75 feet deep on the west.

“Each shaft includes installing a steel reinforcing bar (full depth), and the backfilling with concrete.  In addition, each shaft has been sonic tested to ensure that there are no voids in the shafts.

“This work could not have been completed without closing the bridge. Bridge demolition work began last week. The actual demolition of the bridge began yesterday. (Aug. 1). The contract for work on the bridge runs through December.”