Why must city share in tunnel maintenance costs?

The in basket: Ernie Moreno of Bremerton read a report in this paper in September that described the city of Bremerton’s share of annual maintenance costs on the downtown ferry egress tunnel that is nearing completion. 

“We had a ballot whether we wanted that or not,” Ernie said, “and we voted no. Then Norm Dicks got it done. Why should we have to share maintenance cost on a state highway?”

The city will pick up $17,000 of the tunnel’s estimated $58,000 in maintenance each year, mostly in labor costs to maintain the appearance of the tunnel, the storm drain systems, fire alarm systems and two emergency phones. The state will pay the rest.

The out basket: I didn’t recall there having been such a vote, and Lynn Price, city project manager for the tunnel, says there was none. 

“As part of the project’s environmental assessment , citizen input was obtained at several open houses and a public hearing, but no votes were taken,” he said. Opponents of the tunnel asked for one, an advisory vote, but the city council said no, as reader Bob Meadows points out in a comment below.  

“The tunnel is part of (Highway) 304” Lynn said, “and as such the allocation of

maintenance responsibilities between and the city and the state is generally covered under RCW 47.24.020.  Since a tunnel is not specifically mentioned in (that law), it was necessary to for the city and

the state to come to an agreement on the non-standard elements that are

part of a tunnel.” 

That law has 16 clauses, one of which says a city will provide street lighting, street cleaning and snow removal and maintain storm drains on state highways passing through it. 

“The agreement was developed,” Lynn said, ‘”with the understanding that the city is

receiving benefits from the project including reducing vehicular traffic

on the downtown surface streets and thereby reducing pedestrians-vehicle

conflicts. The city will be maintaining those items that are within our normal area

of responsibility for state routes within the city.” 

3 thoughts on “Why must city share in tunnel maintenance costs?

  1. I found a local newspaper whose online archive of past articles provides a hint of what happened regarding the tunnel and a petition for a vote of the people to approve or reject it:

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2004/jul/15/state-takes-control-of-tunnel/

    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2004/aug/05/council-wont-put-tunnel-planon-ballot/

    It seems that more than 3000 Bremerton residents signed a petition to put the matter on the ballot in 2004, but the project was handed off by the city to the state a few days later — which made the idea of a vote a moot point. It was no longer the city’s project (on that end of State Route 304, but on the other end the “gateway project” was still going on with the Mayor’s name proudly displayed on the signs at the construction area to let everyone know that the city was handling the widening and improvement of a state highway).

    Ernie apparently recalls the citizens’ demand for a vote, but misremembers the way that demand was tossed aside by the clever step of handing off a project that the Bremerton residents apparently didn’t want while continuing to do a project on the same state highway a few miles away.

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