Monthly Archives: September 2010

New Manette Bridge: The Piers Are Taking Shape

Watching the crews from Manson and Mowat build the new Manette Bridge is like a kind of theater.

As someone naive yet fascinated by by such a mammoth project, each day brings its share of surprises. What will spring up next?

We’re now about two months into the $57.8 million project and the piers are taking shape. The 12-foot wide cylinders are mostly filled with giant purple rebar cages (see photos) and crews are pouring concrete into them. The cylinder is plunged deep into the ground underneath the Port Washington Narrows.

On the pier closest to the downtown Bremerton waterfront, a complete concrete base appears to be poured, as you can also see.

Most days, spectators frequent the 80-year-old Manette Bridge’s skinny rickety walkway, wide-eyed like me to watch a construction company perform what seems like a Herculean feat.

Keep it coming crews!

Two Percent Still Not Wearing Seat Belts

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission came out with its annual press release this week touting how great the state is about wearing seat belts. It was fourth in the nation this year at 97.6 percent, behind Michigan (98), Hawaii and Oregon. The nationwide average is 84 percent.

What intrigues me is who the 2.3 percent still holding out are.

Unlike we old people, who had to learn new tricks, anybody under, say, 45 years old has no excuse whatsoever. They’ve been in seat belts since the day they were born. Actually before they were born. It’s about as automatic as breathing. It was tougher on us oldsters, whose first cars didn’t even come with seat belts, which become mandatory until 1966.

Who are these 2.3 percent? Lazy? Drunk? Authority protesters? Then they need seat belts more than normal people.

Two percent doesn’tt sound like much, but Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said troopers still write about 47,000 tickets a year for not buckling up.

“It appears that enforcement is the only way to win their compliance, and we will not hesitate to use that tool,” he said.

Fine by me. If it’s too much work for them, hit ’em with a $142 ticket.

The Washington rate continues to improve, but it gets increasingly difficult the closer you get to 100 percent. It improved 1.2 percent from 2009, meaning one-third of those who hadn’t been buckling up decided to start.

Highway Projects Added, But Not Belfair Bypass

More than a year of favorable bids has saved the state millions on highway jobs, allowing it to pull 21 other highway and ferry projects off the scrap heap, the state Department of Transportation said Monday. There’s about $112 million more available than expected.

That’s good news, but it doesn’t make up for a few years ago when the state had to cut the Belfair Bypass and 30 other projects because the recession took a $4 billion bite out of gas tax revenues. Of the 21 projects that have been added back, none are in the Olympic Region.

These are mostly smaller jobs. The Belfair Bypass itself would cost about $56 million, or about half of the total available. There are four ferry projects on the list totalling $4.9 million — $1.6 million for Anacortes terminal preservation, $900,000 for Anacortes overhead loading, $2 million for a Mukilteo transfer span and $400,000 for Edmonds terminal preservation.

Fourteen of the 21 projects are on the other side of the mountains.

DOT plans to award the contracts this fall and start construction in the spring, creating or supporting about 580 jobs.

You can check out the whole list here.