PORT ORCHARD — It was a day only the most optimistic Port Orchard city officials would have bet the farm on.
More than a decade in the making, the Tremont Boulevard widening project officially is underway after Mayor Rob Putaansuu, City Council members and 26th Legislative District legislators participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking event at 321 Tremont on Friday, July 7.
When the project gets underway in earnest at the end of this month, motorists who use the busy roadway connecting Port Orchard to Highway 16 will find their commute disrupted thanks to work done by Active Construction, which was awarded a $12.8 million bid to build the project. But when their work is completed in the fall of 2018, commuters will have a four-lane corridor with amenities such as roundabouts, sidewalks and bike lanes — and an elimination of a series of intersectional street signals.
“Ten years ago, Port Orchard embarked on a journey to widen Tremont Boulevard to create a gateway into our community,” Putaansuu told the gathering. “With a grand vision and no resources of its own, the city accepted $3 million of federal transportation funds to design a right of way. Little did we know that a great economic recession was just around the corner.”
He said those economic factors dried up virtually all sources of funding for Tremont and other state projects.
Putaansuu said the city last year made the Tremont project its top transportation priority. “We really had no choice,” he said. “We either had to fund our $18 million project by 2018 or be forced to repay that $3 million with no money to do so.”
Through the creation of a transportation impact fee on building construction and a car tab fee, the mayor said the city created the revenue necessary to support the bond debt to supplement the $1.7 million of federal money distributed by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. The state Transportation Improvement Board added the largest chunk, $8 million, in addition to another $2 million courtesy of the state Legislature.
“Mark Dorsey (the city’s public works director) and his staff went to work with the help of federal and state grants,” Putaansuu said. He also thanked the 26th District’s legislators, particularly Sen. Jan Angel, for their diligence in seeking additional state funding for the project.