Category Archives: Roads and Infrastructure

Port Orchard Issues Analysis of SKIA Sewer Plans

Following up on the story I wrote about the meeting between City of Port Orchard and Kitsap County officials, James Weaver, the city’s director of development, sent me its SKIA Infrastructure Assessment and Technical Memorandum. The 28-page document compares Bremerton’s analysis of its ability to provide infrastructure, including sewer service, to SKIA with Port Orchard’s ability to provide sewer. Bottom line, Port Orchard figures it can get the job done for 20 percent less than Bremerton. The report will be posted within a day or two on the city’s Web site.

Port Orchard Wants to Take $#!& From SKIA

It really does come down to sewers.

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, in his South Kitsap Industrial Area Multi-Jurisdictional Implementation Proposal, issued March 27, spoke in a general way of shared costs and revenues from the proposed industrial park. But the city’s primary claim to its piece of the SKIA pie is as a provider of waste water treatment, he told Kitsap County Commissioners Jan Angel and Steve Bauer at a summit with city council members Monday at City Hall. A 2003 memorandum of understanding between the city and the Port of Bremerton gives Port Orchard the legal backing to support its stance, Coppola said. At stake is substantial revenue from sewer service provided to SKIA, money the city will need as it is impacted by increased traffic from the area, Coppola said.

Coppola asked Angel, representing South KItsap, for an official statement of support for the city’s position. But Angel declined, saying, “I’m just going to put it on the table, the Port of Bremerton, part of the City of Bremerton and Port Orchard are all in my district. That’s why the county has stepped back and not taken a position, because we didn’t really feel it was our place to do so.”
Coppola said the city is prepared to dig in and defend its $21.5 million investment in Karcher Creek’s waste water treatment plant, made in large part with SKIA in mind.
“We’ve invested $4.5 million from our treasury and the balance in bonds, and we’re not walking away from that,” said Coppola.

Read the complete story later at Read Bremerton Beat reporter Andy Binion’s post on public perception of conflict between Bremerton and Port Orchard here.

Other issues of mutual interest discussed at the summit included:

McCormick Woods annexation: Angel said the county supports the annexation, even though it would mean reduced revenue for the county. Discussion centered on how the county and city would share responsibilities and revenues (in the form of impact fees) from the area.

Under an inter-local agreement between the county and Kitsap cities, transfer of revenue would be phased in over three years, with 75 percent going to the county in the first year of annexation, 50 percent the  next and 25 percent the next. Councilman John Clauson suggested responsibility for maintenance of roads to be assumed by the city could be similarly phased in.

Angel said the board of commissioners needs to discuss the annexation and make its recommendation.

Council members requested that the board put McWoods high on its list of priorities. “I would just comment maybe the sooner the better,” said Carolyn Powers. “We have a lot of people out at McCormick Woods chomping at the bit, and we can’t do it on our own.”

Bethel Corridor: The county is taking a survey to see if taxpayers would support any of several measures to fund major improvements to the 1.7-mile stretch of road that is South Kitsap’s major commercial thoroughfare. If not, the project that has been in the works since 2000 will be kaput.

“If people aren’t willing to pay anything, we don’t have a project,” Angel said. “A lot of people believe there is money to do this project. There is not.”

Coppola said that a number of Bethel property owners have approached the city about annexation. The city is likely to eventually annex the whole Bethel corridor.

Givens Center and Veteran’s Memorial Park: The county has offered the Givens Center to the City of Port Orchard, not as a gift. No suggested sale price has been mentioned. The city is analyzing the potential benefits and liabilities of the proposal, said James Weaver, the city’s director of planning and development. Jan Angel said she began talking with Copploa about the proposal when he took office in January.”I was hoping you were going to offer a price tonight,” said Angel, mostly in jest.

“I thought you wanted to give it to us,” said Coppola, also joking.

Angel said it would also be logical for the city to assume responsibility for Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is in city limits. The county understands that the city is working to create a parks department and that they would not be likely to take over the park until that had happened.

Surprise, Burley-Olalla Interchange Will Close a Week Early

Burley-Olalla Road will close a week earlier than was announced. Beginning July 25, there will be no access to or from Highway 16 as work begins on a new interchange.

In related news, people using the Olalla dump are advised to use alternate routes.

Here’s a map of suggested alternate routes from yours truly. If any of you local residents have better ideas, let me know to I can alter the map.


All About Roundabouts: Help for the Circularly Challenged

The Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday will vote on design options for the Tremont Street “City Gateway” project to address community concerns about roundabouts in the current design. Check Friday for the story.

According to RoundaboutsUSA, “the site dedicated to free traffic flow through the design and use of roundabouts,” there’s a difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle.

From the Web site: “A modern roundabout has three major characteristics compared to its predecessors, traffic circles and rotaries. First, the roundabout gives vehicles in the circular travel way the right-of-way. This change on a national basis in England in 1963 marked the start of the modern roundabout era.”

Roundabouts are generally smaller than their predecessors and generally include a raised “splitter” island that slows down or constrains speed just before entry, the Web site says.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, roundabouts stand out over traffic circles because in roundabouts, drivers wishing to enter must yield to vehicles already in the circle. “With many of the older traffic circles,” the site says, “drivers inside the circle must yield to the vehicles entering the circle. Traffic circles quickly clogged up and came to a standstill when and if many vehicles entered at the same time.”

I remember driving through Washington, D.C., in the late 1970s with my then-fiancee in a battered 1950s International Travelall that formerly served as a Wyoming school bus.
It was was not a thing of beauty, and drivers in their shiny town cars scattered as we entered the city’s baffling traffic circles, often making numerous rotations before navigating into a lane where we could GET THE HECK OUT, headed in absolutely the wrong direction.

Port Orchard officials have heard concerns from citizens that roundabouts are difficult to navigate. South Kitsap already has one roundabout at the intersection of Bethel Avenue and Highway 160. Drivers appear to have learned how to navigate this obstacle (at least the times I’ve driven through). Rush hour on Tremont Street could present a different picture.

Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard’s new public works director, is optimistic.
“I think people can be taught,” he said.

WSDOT’s Web site includes tips for the roundabout challenged and a link to a how-to video courtesy of the cities of Lacey and Olympia, which apparently are the self-proclaimed roundabout know-it-alls.

My Tip: Get a Traveall or similarly ugly vehicle and at least people will get out of your way.

And if you’re feeling really hard core about roundabouts: Modern Roundabouts, which touts itself as a “definitive” source of information about roundabouts, has a database of all roundabouts current and proposed in the United States.

Lantz and Seaquist Weigh in on “Oke” Bridge

Last week the state Senate Transportation Committee moved along a bill to rename the Tacoma Narrows Bridge after the late Bob Oke. Oke, a South Kitsap resident, was a long-time 26th District senator and one of the main proponents of building a second span across Puget Sound between the Kitsap Peninsula and Tacoma. There is not yet a time line for the bill to be heard on the Senate floor.

Three state senators representing Kitsap and North Mason – Sens. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch – are listed as sponsors of SJM 8026. Oke was a Republican.

Following the committee hearing, at which Oke’s widow Judy Oke testified, she said she was fairly confident that the bill would pass in the Senate, but she wasn’t so sure about the House of Representatives.

Both current 26th District representatives, Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, and Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, are officially opposed to the proposal.

Lantz, in an e-mail, said she’s against renaming the bridge at all.
“Now, as to the issue itself. I, too, think the bridge is already perfectly named. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge or just the Narrows Bridge is a dignified, descriptive and historically rooted name that will serve us well for generations to come. We will find other opportunities to honor Senator Oke and naming the park (presumably Long Lake County Park) for him might be one of them.”

Seaquist was emphatic in his stance on the idea.

“I have the greatest admiration for Bob Oke as a senator,” Seaquist said. “I am firmly (he emphasized the word ‘firmly’) opposed to the idea of renaming the bridge. I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to get into the business of naming bridges.”

Seaquist said his perception of the “overwhelming view” among his constituents is that they are against naming the bridge for Oke, not all necessarily because of the price of tolls, he added.

Burley-Olalla Interchange: Map of Alternate Routes During Construction

Construction on the Burley-Olalla interchange on Highway 16 is set to start in July and continue for 25 months.

Burley-Olalla Road will be closed near the construction site for the duration. The Washington State Department of Transportation is not going to post detours, choosing instead to let drivers figure out their own alternate routes.

“We want people to find the route they’re most comfortable with,” said John Ho of the DOT.

I got on Google Maps and, with the help of my tech savvy colleagues, traced what appear to me to be the obvious alternatives. If you haven’t used Google Maps before, be advised that when you click on the link, you can zoom in and out. Written directions can be viewed by clicking on the place marks.

I’m thinking any route having to do with Purdy Drive/Highway 302 will be less than desirable due to already thick congestion, especially at the northbound exit in the p.m.

If you end up taking any of the routes, don’t literally follow my lines or you might be pulled over for erratic driving. The Google Maps program is a little touchy and I’m still getting the hang of it. Thanks for your patience while my map-making skills are under construction.

Hint: At the Mullenix exit, if you have trouble clicking on one or the other place mark because they are close together, put your cursor to the far side of either place mark and click; it’ll grab it. Also try the satellite view, which is really cool, and which helps give you an idea of where you are.

If anyone has comments, thoughts, better ideas or handy tips about alternate routes, post away. Problems using the map, call me and I try to walk you through it, (360) 792-9219. CTH

Bill to Name Tacoma Narrows Bridge After Bob Oke Gets First Reading

By now you may have seen Steve Gardner’s post on the Kitsap Caucus about proposed legislation to name the Tacoma Narrows Bridge second span after the late Bob Oke. A story on the bill will soon be posted at

Oke, a Port Orchard resident and former Republican state senator representing the 26th District, fought to have the bridge built against strong opposition to the tolls that would pay for it. He died in May of cancer, two months before the new span opened.

The bill got a first reading on the state Senate floor today and has been referred to the transportation committee .

Oke’s widow Judy Oke and South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel were in Olympia Monday garnering support for the measure. The Oke family is hosting a Web site, “The Bridge of Faith,” and collecting online signatures of support for the measure. More than 700 signatures have been collected within the past five days, Judy Oke said.

But Randy Boss of Gig Harbor, representing Citizens Against Tolls, said the idea of naming the bridge after Oke adds “insult to injury.” Boss, in an e-mail to the Kitsap Sun, recalled the 1998 citizen advisory vote on whether the bridge should be built with revenue from tolls. The vote, comprising seven counties, passed with 53 percent support, but 80 percent of 26th District residents voted against the idea. Oke incurred scathing criticism from constituents and colleagues, but continued to push for the bridge, citing traffic safety as the overriding reason to build.

“To further insult us by naming the bridge after the man that orchestrated this political folly is simply adding insult to injury,” Boss said.

Judy Oke wasn’t surprised to hear of Boss’ stance. She said the public pressure against the bridge caused considerable stress to her family during Oke’s years-long campaign to see it built.

Boss, who called Oke “a really sweet guy” and was sorry to hear of his passing, indicated he’s not eager to dredge up the past.

“The best honor we could bestow on Bob Oke would be to withdraw this entire debate so as not to force an organized opposition to this idea,” Boss said.

Regarding tolls: The total amount to be financed by toll revenues is $849 million. The bridge will be paid off in 2030. The toll for the new span is set at $3; $1.75 for cars with a transponder. The current rate will be in effect through June. Original financing estimates called for toll increases up to $6 in 2015, but that may not be necessary said, Janet Matkin, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT officials are currently reviewing traffic and revenue data to see if an increase is needed. They will announce their decision sometime this spring.

Question of the Day: What’s your opinion on naming public structures after politicians, especially in a case like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which became a highly charged and bitter debate?

Bethel Sinkhole Won’t Be a Quick Fix

Correction 3:15 p.m. Jan. 3: Alan Biggs of WestSound Engineering called my attention to some inaccuracies in the story that ran in today’s Kitsap Sun. The Web version of the story will be corrected by the end of the business day. Note Biggs’ comments that the volume of water generated by the Dec. 2 & 3 rains was “on the order of a 500-yr recurrence interval.”

Here’s the correction we will run in the print edition, and I have amended the blog entry to reflect the correct information:
Wrong Reference: An article in Wednesday’s Kitsap Sun on the Bethel Avenue sinkhole indicated incorrectly that the diameter of a failing pipe is 24 inches. The pipe is trapezoidal and its diameter is not easily referenced. Also the amount of water cited was an estimate of what would flow through the pipe during a 100-year storm, not during the Dec. 3 storm. A local expert estimates the amount of flow during the storm was actually greater than 86 cubic feet per second.

Here’s what Biggs had to say about the volume of water generated by the Dec. 3 storm: “Readily available data for the larger recurrence interval storms are hard to come by, so we informally extrapolated a “best fit” curve from the information available in the Stormwater Manual and estimated that the storm was more on the order of a 500-yr recurrence interval-perhaps even exceeding the 24-hr, 1,000-yr storm, depending on how you fit the curve to the data.”

Here’s my amended entry:

It’s time now to take a trip below the streets of Port Orchard. Visualize, if you will, a concrete channel, buried 20 feet underground beneath the blacktop on Bethel Avenue.

The trapezoidal channel is more than 50 years old and covered with a concrete lid that is crumbling in places, barely able to handle the typical winter rain.

Then on Dec. 3, more than half the rainfall in the second soggiest December ever falls in a 24-hour period.

Visualize 86 cubic feet of water per second trying to make its way through that pipe – that’s a 2-by-1-foot column of water the length of 2 pickup trucks. That’s the amount Alan Biggs of WestSound Engineering of Port Orchard estimates would fall during a “100-year recurrence interval storm.” Biggs said the amount of water coursing downhill on its way to the sound at the height of the flood that day was actually greater. How much greater? Here’s what he had to say:

“Readily available data for the larger recurrence interval storms are hard to come by, so we informally extrapolated a “best fit” curve from the information available in the Stormwater Manual and estimated that the storm was more on the order of a 500-yr recurrence interval-perhaps even exceeding the 24-hr, 1,000-yr storm, depending on how you fit the curve to the data.”

No wonder Bethel Avenue now has a gaping 50-by-20-by-30-foot cavity.

The 86 cubic feet per inch is the amount a new pipe will need to be able to handle in the event of another “100-year recurrence interval storm,” Biggs said in a report to the city. The cost to fix it, at least $400,000, will be handled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said City Engineer Maher Abed.

Read more about the city’s plans to fix the Bethel sinkhole and to renovate its entire storm water system here.

In the meantime, maybe the city could make some money giving underground tours.

City Monitoring Traffic Since Lowe’s Opening

I received the e-mail pasted below from Roger Gay complaining about traffic on Sedgwick Road since the Dec. 21 opening of Lowe’s. I called City Engineer Maher Abed, who confirmed what Roger said, that there is only one entrance to the mega store, because of wetlands on the property. The site is further constrained, said Abed, by proximity to Highway 16 and the southbound on-ramp.

Abed said the city is monitoring traffic patterns to see if “adjustments” need to be made. The state Department of Transportation operates the lights at Lowe’s and at the southbound on-ramp (northbound off-ramp). The lights are synchronized for optimal traffic flow, said Abed, but because the store just opened, the traffic pattern may not represent business as usual. So the city is taking a wait and see approach.

“You want to keep in mind when you’re coming into a grand opening situation, traffic is going to be worse until things settle down.

Of the site itself, Abed said, “I think there’s enough property to make this site viable. I wouldn’t say the site is ideal. It worked for their use.”

Here’s Roger’s comment:

Just curious. Under what circumstances did the various planning
commissions, design engineers, and project genious’s decide that the
new Lowe’s store on Sedgwick only needed one entrance? In South
Kitsap we now have 4 stop lights between Sidney and the entrance to
Hywy 16 North bound. If the same technical people who program the
rest of the stoplights in Kitsap County have programmed these then we
are in for some traffic backups. I normally drive down Glenwood to
the Albertsons light and from there I had two lights to go to make a
left turn to the Hywy 16 and head towards Bremerton. Recently after
the Lowes opening it took 10 minutes to travel the same distance that
had taken only 3 to 5 minutes. I literally stopped in traffic while
still next to Albertsons and slowly made my way through numerous red
light changes to reach the left turn to 16. Before this new light
traffic on that stretch of road was very bad at times, now it will be
even worse. The excuse I heard was there was “wetlands” and no other
entrance could be built. Why the heck were they building in the
wetlands area anyway?? If it limited the access why were they
allowed to build there? If this is the planning I can come to expect
from the various planning groups then a change needs to be made. I
am sure a single entrance to a large facility like Lowes would not be
allowed in other jurisdictions, why was it allowed here? Just curious.

Roger Gay

South Kitsap

Meeting Set on Tremont Right-of-Way Acquisition

Tremont Street in South Kitsap will be widened between Highway 16 and Port Orchard Boulevard to include four lanes of traffic with bike lanes and sidewalks on either side. The city will need to acquire right-of-way from some residents living along the route. A meeting to review the process will take place at at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at City Hall, 216 Prospect St. Port Orchard.

Click here for a larger version of the map to see if your property may be affected.

Download file


The City of Port Orchard is moving into the next phase of its Tremont Street widening project, meaning city officials will need to negotiate right-of-way acquisition with some residents who live along the project route.

A public open house to provide information on the process has been scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 219 Prospect St.

Construction will begin in the fall of 2008 on the $7.5 million project, which is designed to relieve traffic congestion between Highway 16 and Port Orchard Boulevard.

Plans call for turning the present two-lane road into four lanes, plus a center turn lane, bike lane, sidewalks and, in two locations, roundabout traffic circles.

The city has hired Universal Field Services Inc. of Edmonds to negotiate right-of-way acquisition. A representative of the company will be at the meeting to answer general questions about the process.

Homeowners will receive monetary compensation based on fair market value for land the city has determined it needs to complete the project.

Individual homeowners were not notified about the meeting, because the city is still working on plans to determine where acquisitions will need to be made and how much property they will involve.

“With the roadway alignment being finalized, the design challenges are becoming clearer,” said City Engineer Maher Abed in a press release.

“Challenges” include how and where to provide utility service to individual properties, median placement and vehicular access for properties, where to construct retaining walls, how to phase in construction and what detours may be necessary.

“In addition, the right-of-way needs are becoming more apparent,” said Abed, who said the city is seeking input from the public on all issues.

The project will be paid for primarily with state and federal transportation funds. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council has helped the city secure a grant for federal matching funds.

For more information, contact Maher Abed at (360) 876-4991.