PORT ORCHARD — It’s official. The city has finally identified an end date for its two-year-long Tremont Street widening project: it’s Aug. 2.
City officials announced Tuesday that they will host a project completion celebration on that date, beginning at 1 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, 151 Tremont St.
The public is invited to attend the celebration, which will have hot dogs, cake, chips and water available for attendees beginning at 12:30 p.m., courtesy of Farmers Insurance. Also in attendance will be 26th Legislative District Sen. Emily Randall, retired state Sen. Jan Angel, and state Reps. Michelle Caldier and Jesse Young.
Mayor Rob Putaansuu said he’s confident the Tremont project will be open for traffic on Aug. 2, barring any unforeseen delay.
“We’re going to be coming down right to the wire,” Putaansuu said of the remaining work to be accomplished before vehicles can begin traveling on the new four-lane road. Some remaining crew members will continue to work on “punch-list” items after Tremont begins accepting traffic. For that reason, the mayor said special emphasis will be placed on safety.
“The moment we open up that road, we’re going to get 12,000 cars a day running through there,” he said. “We’ve got to keep it safe for the guys that are working there so they can get it done as quickly as possible.”
A punch-list of items
But from now until the August opening date arrives, construction crews will need to finish five days of lane striping and put down thermoplastic striping and truncated domes for the crosswalks — those little yellow bumps at crossings that meet ADA compliance.
The mayor said he was told some new directional signs will need to be moved to provide motorists with better visibility.
Putaansuu lauded the efforts of assistant engineer Mike Pleasants, who has been the city’s liaison with Active Construction. Pleasants has met weekly with the contractor to keep the mayor up to date on the project’s progress.
Tremont has been at capacity since 2006, according to a city traffic study. Since then, the road has become even more congested. The city’s Tremont Street project website reports the city’s population has grown by almost 17 percent between 2010 and 2015, contributing to clogged road conditions.
Work in earnest began on the Tremont project with a groundbreaking ceremony on July 7, 2017. But the growling of construction equipment and months of physical street reshaping, however, was preceded by a lengthy
design phase. And before that came more than a decade of planning by city officials who, starting in 2005, worked endlessly to secure grant monies from federal, state and county sources to eventually build the $21 million four-lane gateway boulevard leading to downtown Port Orchard.
The city initially received $3 million in federal grant funding to design the work, conduct an environmental review and acquire right-of-way properties. For the construction work phase, Port Orchard was awarded approximately $1.7 million from the countywide Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC).
The major funding impetus came from the state’s Transportation Improvement Board, which provided $8 million that served as the Tremont project’s financial backbone. An additional $2 million was requested, and granted, by the state Legislature during its 2017 session.
The City of Port Orchard has bonded, or borrowed, $6 million to complete the project’s funding package.
The mayor said he was successful two weeks ago in obtaining $1.3 million from KRCC to cover added expenses related to the Tremont project that the city was planning to pay from its reserve funds. Instead, he said, that money will be available for other needed projects in the city.
There were some hiccups along the way, however. A 17-day work stoppage in August and September by members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302, general contractor Active Construction’s pavers and concrete pumpers and hoisters, ultimately delayed the completion date until well into the summer.
Some schedule delays were caused by unexpected surprises.
“We found some big boulders [underground] and we had to move a sewer line, export and import soil, and create additional drainage,” Putaansuu said.
And, as expected, the area’s usual spate of wet spring weather and winter snowfall created an additional, albeit modest, slippage to the project schedule.
Navigating the roundabouts
While motorists will appreciate the street’s new four-lane configuration and its potential to ease traffic congestion during rush hours, they will also navigate two new roundabouts at the Pottery Avenue and South Kitsap Boulevard intersections.
Those roundabouts join the city’s existing single-lane roundabout at the Bethel Avenue and Mile Hill Drive intersection. Several more of the European-style roundabouts are in the planning stages for future improvements to the Bethel-Sedgwick transportation corridors in coming years.
“I’m so proud of the quality of the project we’re delivering,” Putaansuu said. “From the McCormick Village Park to the pocket park we’ve opened downtown, and now this monumental project at Tremont.
“We’re delivering first-class projects, and I’m so proud of that and the work that we’re doing for the city.”