Bucklin Hill Bridge reopens to fanfare

More than 350 residents turned out to take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $20 million project that now stands as the largest single transportation-related project in the history of Kitsap County Public Works Department.

Kitsap County Commissioner Ed Wolfe (second from left) walks with residents of the Crista Shores assisted living community as the Bucklin Hill Bridge prepared to open to traffic on July 22. They were among the first to walk across the newly opened bridge.

Kitsap County Commissioner Ed Wolfe (second from left) walks with residents of the Crista Shores assisted living community as the Bucklin Hill Bridge prepared to open to traffic on July 22. They were among the first to walk across the newly opened bridge.

SILVERDALE—There was nothing but celebration and smiles July 22 at the grand reopening of Bucklin Hill Bridge, a critical link to Silverdale’s local transportation system. More than 350 residents turned out to take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $20 million project that now stands as the largest single transportation-related project in the history of Kitsap County Public Works Department.

“Some may have thought this was just a bridge project,” Tina Nelson, the project manager for Kitsap County, said. “It wasn’t. It was a critical utility and habitat-replacement project with a bridge attached to it.”

The 240-foot-long span, now with an additional lane in each direction, effectively doubles traffic capacity over the old bridge (from 18,000 vehicles a day to 35,000). But it also provided an opportunity to install badly needed utility upgrades and replace two 72-inch culverts.

Replacing the culverts allows tidal flow from Dyes Inlet to flow more naturally into the Clear Creek estuary. That will allow tidal cleansing to return the estuary to a more natural state, encouraging fish, birds and other wildlife to repopulate the wetland. The widened sidewalks and railing permit two dramatic scenic overlooks.

Kitsap County Commissioner Ed Wolfe, who emceed the event, looked out over the crowd and proclaimed, “If there was still a LIFE magazine, this would be the cover,” he said. “This is truly a piece of Americana.”

The guests of honor numbered more than 200, and they were the residents of Crista Shores Senior Living, right on the northeast corner of the bridge span. “The residents of Crista Shores were incredibly patient with us during the closures and construction,” Nelson, the project manager, said. “Some of them enjoyed looking out their glass doors and watching the activity. But we also know some of them were inconvenienced with the project. They were wonderfully patient.“

Wolfe was joined by fellow Kitsap County commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Rob Gelder. Other dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer; State Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo; Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe; Kathleen Davis, a project partner with the Washington State Department of Transportation; and Miss Silverdale 2016 Jasmine Medina. The U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard presented the colors and the Central Kitsap High School Marching Band played the “Star Spangled Banner” (though they notably warmed up with a cheeky rendition of “Louie Louie,” Washington’s highly unofficial state song).

The bridge, which was closed July 1, 2015, in the final push to completion, opened to traffic later on July 22. Some additional work remains, though it won’t affect daily traffic flows. The project is to be completely finished sometime in the fall by general contractor Granite Construction Co.

 

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