Bucklin Hill Road opens July 22

After more than a year of construction, the Bucklin Hill Road will be reopening to traffic on Friday, July 22.

SILVERDALE — After more than a year of construction, the Bucklin Hill Road will be reopening to traffic on Friday, July 22.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held 10 a.m. July 22 on the east end of the bridge approach; the bridge will be reopened to traffic later in the day.

“As promised, we will have Bucklin Hill Road open on time, and (we want to) take the opportunity to publically thank local businesses and residents who were inconvenienced with the detours and construction,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Ed Wolfe. “The bridge is a great accomplishment for the county, and we look forward to the community enjoying improved access along the waterfront. I am excited to celebrate with those who were the most impacted — the residents of Crista Shores Senior Living Community. They will be joining me in the first ceremonial walk across the bridge.”

The 240-foot, multi-span bridge increases traffic capacity and flow through Silverdale. It provides two scenic overlooks, wider sidewalks and bike paths on both sides of the road. Replacing the former 72-inch culverts with a bridge allows tidal flow from Dyes Inlet into Clear Creek estuary to return to a natural state and improves habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Construction began July 1, 2015, and was scheduled to last 14 months. The road was closed between Blaine Avenue NW and Mickelberry Road NW.

“The road opening is ahead of schedule due to the coordinated efforts of Kitsap County Public Works, the contractor Granite Construction and the many utility companies involved in the project,” said project manager Tina Nelson.

While the bridge was closed, Silverdale through traffic was rerouted to use Ridgetop Boulevard. Businesses along Bucklin Hill Road remained open, and were accessible from side streets off of Ridgetop.

Since its initial design, the Bucklin Hill Bridge Project was planned to be more than just construction of a bridge. It has involved relocating, removing, upgrading and installing many utilities.

A new sanitary sewer force main, water main, stormwater infrastructure and a reclaimed water main were all part of the project. Additionally, communication and power lines were replaced and relocated from Kitsap Public Utilities, Wave Broadband, Unite Private Network, CenturyLink and Puget Sound Energy.

The design for the new bridge included north and south overlooks on the east end of the bridge, which feature educational information and rest areas. Public input was sought for design elements for the two overlooks before construction began. The landscape features, textured concrete, benches and lighting bollards cost added an estimated $60,000 to the total cost of construction.

Other aspects of Bucklin Hill Road improvements include:

• Widen the road to four lanes across the new bridge and five lanes elsewhere within the project area.

• Provide left turn access from eastbound Bucklin Hill Road onto northbound Levin Road.

• Improve local community access by constructing sidewalks and bicycle lanes from  Blaine Avenue NW to Mickelberry Road NW.

• Provide storm drainage improvements so that the runoff is treated to remove road pollutants.

• Replace the traffic signal at Mickelberry Road NW and the pedestrian signal just east of the Clear Creek estuary.

As of February 2015, the project costs included $3 million for preliminary engineering; $1.25 million for right-of-way purchase; and $15.1 million for construction. The project was funded through the Federal Highway Administration ($6.8 million); the Transportation Improvement Board ($4 million); Kitsap County Road Fund ($6.2 million); Kitsap County Sewer Utility Capital Fund ($700,000); Silverdale Water District ($1.4 million); and other utilities ($250,000).

Furthermore, the project will enhance the estuary; according to the website, removing the previous culverts and reconfiguring the Old Mill Pond will:

• Improve fish passage for both spawning salmon and out migrating juvenile salmon.

• Allow movement of sediment and decaying matter (nutrients) from the stream to the marine water, creating a more natural exchange between the stream and the estuary.

• Provide natural sediment to replenish beached and improve ability of habitat and nutrients for near shore marine fish such as gunnels and cling fish.

• Increased spawning grounds may be created for sand lance, an important food source for salmon.

• Increase the ecology valuable intertidal area, including salt march areas.

• Support future upstream restoration projects to continue improving habitat in the Clear Creek System.

“Kitsap County residents value the natural resources of this region and the quality of life available on the peninsula amid the surrounding scenic beauty and habitats of estuaries and waterways,” the project website states. “This project is necessary to protect and maintain these values.”

Work on the project will continue after Bucklin Hill Road opens with intermittent lane closures and traffic delays through this fall when the entire project is anticipated to be completed.

The Bucklin Hill Bridge Project is the largest road project undertaken by Kitsap County Public Works. The $20 million project began in the late 1990s. An early design study identified goals of increasing capacity, constructing pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and connecting the Clear Creek Trail system on both sides of Bucklin Hill Road.

For more information, visit www.bucklinhill.com.