Celebration: The City of Port Orchard is hosting a celebration event Friday, Aug. 2, commemorating the reopening of Tremont Street after a 25-month rebuild and widening of the major city arterial. The event begins at 1 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, 151 Tremont St. Hot dogs, cake and chips will be served at 12:30 p.m.
PORT ORCHARD — After years of traffic congestion on one of the main arterials into Port Orchard from State Highway 16, the City of Port Orchard began a decade of planning and hunting down funding sources to transform the busy two-lane Tremont Street into what Mayor Rob Putaansuu says is a modern, four-lane gateway arterial that now fully accommodates both motorists and transit commuters.
While the roadway skirts a mixture of rural, commercial, industrial and residential parcels from SR 16 to Port Orchard Boulevard, the changing nature of South Kitsap also has added a cluster of medical offices at the intersection of South Kitsap Boulevard and Tremont.
As a traffic study commissioned in 2006 reported, Tremont had reached its traffic capacity and the old road was not capable of accommodating a population in Port Orchard that had grown by almost 17 percent between 2010 and 2015. Without a rebuild, commuters were consigned to increasing travel commutes along the route.
The $21 million three-phase construction effort, commonly called the Tremont Street Widening Project, was certainly more than a handful for the city’s officials to take on.
Government planners began to gather information on how to rebuild the arterial so that it could cut commuters’ drive times and also bring it to current safety and road standards. Their designs also were prioritized to emphasize safety for bicyclists and pedestrians who use the roadway and its sidewalks.
The most obvious change was widening Tremont from two lanes to four. And instead of traditional traffic lights at the street’s intersections at Pottery Avenue and South Kitsap Boulevard, planners included two two-lane roundabouts.
While city motorists have some experience maneuvering the sole existing roundabout at Bethel and Mile Hill Drive, some have chafed at having to learn the etiquette of sharing the roundabout lanes.
And others are puzzled by the flashing yellow warning traffic lights at the Pottery roundabout (they were installed as a safety measure should emergency vehicles from the nearby South Kitsap Fire and Rescue fire station need to quickly travel through the intersection).
The planners also integrated a pleasing visual aesthetic to the project — giving it the appearance of a lush green gateway into Port Orchard, complete with directional signage using unified city design logos.
Transit stops have been improved with safety elements to protect passengers and buses from vehicles that are passing close by. Lanes for bicyclists have been added, as have new sidewalks on both sides of the road. The design also added new bulb-outs at key points, LED streetlights and underground utilities while eliminating the visual distraction of overhanging electrical and communication cabling. That revision also removes the likelihood of winter power outages caused by downed trees and, by extension, downed wires.
With the increased footprint of the street’s impervious surface, the project design required improved storm drainage. The design also updated water and sanitary sewer lines. A mid-block pedestrian-activated crossing lane was added at the mid-block between South Kitsap Boulevard and Pottery Avenue, and the road design was optimized to give motorists improved sightlines along the route.