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‘Bridges of Kitsap’ exhibit at Bremerton museum explores the connections that keep Kitsap moving
Some people drive over them on their daily commute without thinking twice about it.
“The ones you take for granted, you don’t notice until they fall down,” said Carolyn Neal, director of Kitsap County Historical Society Museum.
Through April 2, the Bremerton museum is showcasing its exhibit, “Spanning the Great Peninsula: Bridges of Kitsap,” which takes a magnifying glass to the county’s spans and their histories.
“They open up the whole peninsula,” Neal said.
With a new Manette Bridge being built in Bremerton, Scott Bartlett, the museum’s curator, got the idea to take a closer look at Kitsap’s 97 publicly-owned bridges, vital engineering projects for a peninsula with about 230 miles of saltwater and freshwater shoreline, plus inlets, bays, creeks, narrows, overpasses and a fjord, not to mention Bainbridge Island.
“They brought these communities together,” Bartlett said.
Once he started talking to people about the Manette Bridge replacement, the idea developed into the importance of bridges in general to the county.
Before the Manette Bridge was constructed in 1930, residents had to rely on a ferry to connect East Bremerton and Manette to Bremerton, Bartlett said.
“It was a pretty big party,” Bartlett said of the opening day of the bridge where huge crowds came to cross and witness others cross the Manette Bridge.
Aside from photos and model displays, the exhibit includes a video presentation of community members’ memories of the Manette Bridge with an interactive feature for visitors to record their own stories to be added to the video for the remainder of the exhibit.
And although many people associate bridges, such as the Manette, to spans over a large body of water, not all necessarily do that.
“A lot of bridges, you may not even know they’re bridges,” Bartlett said, adding that a bridge is defined as crossing a span of 20 feet or more and doesn’t necessarily have to be over running water. Many of the bridges owned by the state are highway overpasses, which are by definition considered as bridges, he added.
County bridges are inspected once a year and the state Department of Transportation requires inspections every two years, said Dan Wolfe, lead construction inspector with Kitsap County Public Works. The inspection includes checking for cracking, the condition of the concrete or wood and looking for debris, especially after high-water events.
The wooden Stavis Bay Road Bridge in Seabeck will be replaced with a concrete bridge. Construction is expected to begin in May and be complete in October, Wolfe said. Other county bridge projects include the Southworth Drive Bridge replacement as well as a new Carpenter Creek Bridge in Kingston, he said, adding that construction for those will begin toward the end of May and wrap up by mid-September so as not to disrupt salmon in the creeks.
“It will be a busy bridge season for us,” Wolfe said.
Kitsap County Historical Society Museum
280 Fourth Street, Bremerton
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday