An aerial view of the SR 3/304 construction project after completion. Courtesy WSDOT

SR 3 interchange construction nears completion

BREMERTON — The congestion relief project on southbound State Route 3 is nearing completion, according to Doug Adamson, state Department of Transportation spokesman.

“As early as this week, the new southbound lane on SR 3 is slated to open, depending on the weather,” Adamson said Sept. 18.

The project is designed to relieve traffic flow southbound into Gorst, where the lanes merged into one. Traffic would back up every day, especially during peak commute hours, adding as much as half an hour or more to commutes home from work.

Thanks to this project, SR 3 will remain two lanes all the way; the Charleston Boulevard lane that turned into the second southbound lane will now be a traditional onramp.

“We’re expecting immediate benefits for drivers using southbound SR 3,” project engineer Michele Britton said in a project update released by WSDOT. “Additionally, it will be a smoother ride now that portions of SR 3 and Charleston Boulevard (also called State Route 304) are repaved.”

Adamson said the project is being completed on time, despite public comments that people haven’t seen much change recently in the construction zone.

“[People] may not have seen a lot of activity during a required 21-day period where new asphalt cures,” Adamson said. “This is standard operating procedure for paving.”

The project isn’t quite complete; traffic cameras are to be installed at West Loxie Eagans Boulevard and the junction of SR 3 and SR 304, which will be active by the end of the year, Adamson said.

When this project was initially reported (“SR 3 bottleneck to be fixed over summer,” March 10 Central Kitsap Reporter), comments weren’t entirely favorable of the project.

“All it is doing is shifting the backup,” Allen Ellzey wrote. “One of the biggest issues are drivers: too many do not know how to merge with traffic … Hey, (SR) 3 will move, and hey, (SR) 304 will be worse than it is now.”

A commenter, “Bobbeo24,” wrote, “How about proposing an actual solution to the problem instead of masking the problem with a slight improvement to the Highway 3 flow, while increasing flow for shipyard workers? A four-lane highway over the existing highway would be about $30 million and would actually solve the bottleneck from the treatment plant on the north to the first Port Orchard exit on the south, or a three-mile section of freeway.”

Commenter “Saltherring” suggested WSDOT build a bridge across the Sinclair Inlet mudflats.

“I recall the Gorst Bypass was proposed and studied about 45 years ago when the short section of freeway connecting Kitsap Way to the Navy Yard Highway was completed,” Saltherring wrote. “At the time the state succumbed to the protests of three or four Gorst business owners who feared they would be ruined. Thousands of commuters suffer daily as a result of that decision.”

According to the WSDOT website, a few alternatives to the final design were considered, including adding a third lane from the SR 304 onramp to Gorst, though that plan was scrapped in favor of making the ramp from SR 304 a traditional onramp.

The project was budgeted at $4.2 million and completed by contractor Granite Construction.

(What are your thoughts on this project? Will this solution help the flow of traffic? Let us know at KitsapDailyNews.com or by sending a letter to the editor at rwalker@soundpublishing.com.)

— Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.