Tremont widening project moving dirt, forging ahead

Road work on track, but still in early stages

PORT ORCHARD — While the City of Port Orchard’s long-awaited Tremont Street Widening Project has been underway for just about three months, there’s no doubt — at least in the minds of motorists who use Tremont to access State Highway 16 — that construction work has begun reshaping the busy arterial road.

Today, Tremont Street winds through a mixture of rural, commercial and industrial property from SR 16 to the Port Orchard Boulevard intersection, where that road leads down to the city’s downtown area.

Motorists who stay on Tremont travel over the bridge spanning Blackjack Creek that connects to Lund Avenue, which then intersects with busy Bethel Avenue in East Port Orchard.

The $18 million project has completed one-third of its Phase 1 elements. It transitions to the second phase in May 2018. Phase 3 is scheduled to start in December 2018, followed by phase 4 work beginning in February 2019. If there aren’t any project hiccups, Tremont Street will debut its four-lane, two-roundabout configuration to motorists in spring 2019.

The roundabouts planned at the intersections of Pottery and South Kitsap Boulevard will replace traffic lights currently in place there.

That improvement and the new four-lane configuration will be accentuated with bicycle lanes, planting strips and new sidewalks and landscaping. There also will be bulb-outs — also known as curb extensions — at key points, LED streetlights and underground utilities.

Kitsap Transit commuters will use improved bus stops with pullout lanes along Tremont. Also part of the project plans, but less visible, will be improvements to storm drainage, water lines and sanitary sewers, according to the Tremont Street project update website.

The plans also emphasize driver and pedestrian safety. There will be a mid-block crossing with pedestrian-activated flashers between South Kitsap Boulevard and Pottery, as well as improved sight distances and increased clear zones near obstructions.

Mark Dorsey, Port Orchard public works director, said the project is generally on schedule. He said there’s been only a minor delay so far with the joint utility trench, otherwise known as the JUT, which will contain dry utilities, including overhead wires that will run underground.

“As normal for this type of project, the JUT has presented some challenges, and we are working through them,” Dorsey said.

He said the Phase 1 traffic control plan and traffic shift has just been implemented.

The project will call for one-lane closures in each direction, but allow for two-way traffic to proceed. There will be intermittent stops controlled by flaggers on the roadway.

“We’ve really just begun,” Dorsey said.

“The clearing is complete and erosion control is in place. The Wet Apple building is down, as well. We’re just beginning the joint utility trench for the dry utilities (moving overhead wires underground).”

Motorists should welcome the added capacity of an extra lane in each direction, which should ease congestion.

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 the clogged road conditions.

While the city received some initial complaints about the project construction, Dorsey said the number of calls has dropped off.

“I think there were a lot of people who did not know about the project, despite our attempts to educate the public,” he said.

Dorsey cited a couple of incidents where the contractor, Active Construction, Inc., had to intermittently close Tremont, causing backups that generated some grumbles from motorists.

“So, there’s been a learning curve on the contractor and public side,” Dorsey said. “(But we have) better traffic control and reduced traffic through the corridor.”

Along with the importance of maintaining the construction schedule, the public works director said planners are ensuring local businesses are accessible during the two-and-a-half-year project.

In November, roadway excavation east of Pottery to the northwest/northeast quadrant of Pottery and Tremont will take place.

Then in December, construction crews will excavate and install a wall west of Port Orchard Boulevard where the existing creek crossing is located.

Tremont Street Widening Project Financial Factoids:

  • The City of Port Orchard cobbled together a number of project partners to help fund the $18 million:
  • In 2005, the City of Port Orchard received $3 million in federal grant funding to design, conduct an environmental review and the obtain right-of-way property.
  • The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC) countywide funding program provided $1.7 million for the construction phase.
  • The state’s Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) awarded the city $8 million.
  • During the 2017 state legislative session, the city requested state transportation funding. It was allocated an additional $2 million.
  • The City of Port Orchard will bond the remaining $6 million needed to complete the Tremont project.
  • (Since elements of the project have been underway for a number of years, some of the initial funding secured for the project has already been spent.
  • The $3 million package of federal grant money was spent on design, an environmental review and right-of-way property acquisition.)

Source: City of Port Orchard Tremont Street project website.