The state Department of Transportation has delayed its anticipated completion of the roundabout at the intersection of Bethel Avenue, Bay Street and Maple Avenue to next spring.
It’s not all bad news, however, as the agency said enough work has been completed to open the roundabout to traffic this winter.
Doug Adamson, DOT assistant communications manager, said crews had hoped to complete all work by year’s end, but the work including the installation of a permanent driving surface and lane markings will have to be completed when warmer temperatures return.
“If we paved now, we wouldn’t have a quality and long-lasting driving surface,” he said. “This is due to temperatures. This is why you see most paving work during the spring, summer and early fall.”
In a brief statement Nov. 20 the city says the temporary traffic signals would be removed by the end of Nov. 22. The statement also reads, “WSDOT’s contractor is currently working to make the roundabout safe for traffic until the final paving work can be performed.”
That’s great news for drivers who have endured lengthy delays at the intersection for months. Lines of cars could be seen stretching all the way to the downtown Bay Street intersection at Port Orchard’s busiest times.
Detours are still expected for pedestrians on foot and for truck drivers. Work is expected to resume in a few months. “We appreciate the importance of this busy intersection in downtown Port Orchard,” Adamson said.
Local business owners have mixed feelings about the announcement as they have taken the hardest hit in the roundabout’s construction. Teresa Ehrhardt at Nostalgia House Bakery said efforts to reach out to customers on social media have helped alleviate some of the financial burden, but the hurt of the past few months remains more than evident.
“The business and the community period just came out in droves to help everybody out here,” she said. “It helps, but it doesn’t make up for everything we’ve lost.”
Adamson did not comment on questions concerning the impact the project has had on local businesses, several of which have criticized DOT for a lack of transparency and empathy.