Funding advances for Port Orchard downtown revitalization

The House Appropriations Committee has advanced new funding championed by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer to support the reconstruction of the Highway 166 /Bay Street Corridor in downtown Port Orchard.

The funding will help advance the design of the project, which will reconstruct a segment of the city’s main street at a raised elevation to account for persistent flooding and rising sea levels.

“This project is important for the revitalization of downtown Port Orchard. It will serve as a catalyst for growth and vitality for the local economy – and improve community resilience in the face of flooding,” Kilmer said. “The federal government should be a project in partners like this so that the costs don’t fall on the backs of local taxpayers. I’ll keep pushing to get this funding signed into law.”

Mayor Rob Putaansuu said: “Our Master Planned project that includes the Community Center, Kitsap Bank’s headquarters and the mixed-use housing projects would not be able to move forward without this investment.”

The project is not only Port Orchard’s “main street” but also an arterial linking Highway 16 to both the north side of the city and outlying areas of South Kitsap County. This section experiences flooding at higher tides during rain events.

In 2021, the city completed the Downtown Subarea Plan in an effort to redevelop the west end of downtown. The Bay Street improvement was one of several public and private projects required to support the redevelopment.

City officials say the resulting street improvements will provide a new pedestrian accessible connection, in conjunction with future planned development, from the waterfront to the upper area of downtown. That area includes the City Hall and the Kitsap County Campus.

In addition, the proposed improvements will connect to existing amenities along the waterfront, including the Bay Street Multi-Use Pathway, parks, the Port of Bremerton Marina and downtown retail businesses.

The street reconstruction also aims to improve safe accommodation and efficiency for all modes of transportation.

The project is supported by the South Kitsap Chamber of Commerce, Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, and the Downtown Port Orchard Merchant Association.