Washington Avenue lane reduction is under way

The in basket: With Fifth Street in Bremerton closed at Washington Avenue and its pavement crushed, plus the north end of the barrier separating the two levels of Washington between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge newly shortened, I wondered if the city was doing work to prepare for this summer’s realignment of Washington, or if it was the first phases of the project itself.

It seems that the start of street and road projects have a way of dragging into the late summer and I hadn’t heard that the contractor had been given the go-ahead to begin the overall project, which will reduce Washington to a single lane in each direction with bike lanes and wider sidewalks between Sixth and the bridge.

I recall that years ago, a Road Warrior reader suggested that the toe of that barrier be cut back or at least painted white so left-turn traffic coming off the bridge was less likely to turn too sharply and hit it. I don’t recall what I did with that, but it didn’t get done then.

The out basket: It IS the start of the project, says city Public Works Director Chal Martin, and it’s to be com

Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Work begin down at Fifth Street and Washington Ave. in Bremerton during the first phase of improvements. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

pleted in November. The closure of Fifth Street is for utility improvements that are working their way up to Sixth Street. Fifth is scheduled to reopen on May 11, but then Sixth Street’s intersection will close. That will be a much bigger deal, and City Engineer Tom Knuckey said a detour plan will be announced soon. Sixth is to reopen May 14, then Fifth will close again while the utility work is tested.

All the work will occur Mondays through Thursdays, the schedule says, as the contractor has chosen to work four 10-hour shifts, at least to start.

Soon the traffic signal at the end of the Manette Bridge will begin flashing red continuously for 30 days, a precursor to installation of stop signs to control the intersection for the duration of the project. The signals will go back into operation when it’s complete.

The current city staff has no recollection of the previous suggestion to cut back or paint the toe of the barrier, which isn’t surprising. It was a long time ago and I’m not sure anyone has actually hit it while turning.

Chal Martin said it has been done now because reducing Washington to a single lane will  make the turn tighter. In practice, most drivers have swung out into the outside lane when turning left off the bridge, he said. That’s technically illegal (drivers are required to turn into the nearest available lane when turning into a roadway) but it is what has been happening. Left turners no longer will be able to swing as wide when the project is done, and construction equipment also will benefit from the shortening.

The other end of the barrier will also be cut back to aid left turners from Sixth onto Washington – and the construction vehicles during the work, Tom said.


4 thoughts on “Washington Avenue lane reduction is under way

  1. The toe cut back was mentioned during the Manette Bridge construction, as a person was concerned that the entrance to the bridge had been moved and the nose would be a hazard.

  2. I had to go to Seattle on Wednesday and what an enormous mess this is. I took the 3 PM ferry home and hopped on bus 22 that will drop me at the park and ride. It took >10 minutes to get 3 blocks. I heard bus drivers on the radio saying they had been sitting at the ferry terminal not moving the entire time because of traffic. It seems like every decision they make about roads in Bremerton is designed to choke traffic and cause jams. Every 4 lane road they’ve reduced to 2. Every light they’re removed in exchange for stop signs. Every right-turn only lane they’ve removed to make more parallel parking. 6th, 11th, Washington, Pacific, it’s all a huge mess and I dread having to go to downtown Bremerton anymore. Maybe someday we’ll see all these mythical pedestrians? Or more than the half-dozen cyclists I used to ride with every day?

  3. The city of Bremerton has created a gridlock problem between the hours of 4:00 pm lasting til about 6:00 pm. Between the ferry off loading and shipyard workers leaving the yard on foot and in cars it is nearly impossible to go any where. I can’t understand how the city engineers would think this would be at all helpful and attract people to the downtown area.

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