Closing of Bucklin Hill Road approved

The closure of NW Bucklin Hill Road between Blaine Avenue NW and Mickelberry Road NW for about a year in order to construct a new bridge over Clear Creek was approved Monday by Kitsap County Commissioners.

The closure, instead of keeping one lane open throughout the construction, is expected to save the county up to $2 million.

Commissioners approved a resolution that allows for the street to be closed to car and pedestrian traffic from April 2014 to December 2015. But Tina Nelson, senior planner for the county, said the reality is that the road will most likely be closed from June 2014 to June of 2015.

"The designs are not yet completed and we haven't put the project out to bid," she said. "So we left a wide window (of time) in the resolution. But most likely the actual construction will take about a year."

The $16.5 million project will see a new bridge built across Clear Creek on Bucklin Hill Road and will include enhancements of the Bucklin Hill Estuary.

According to County Engineer Jonathan Brand, the project team looked at closing the road to one lane traffic during the project but found that traffic flow would not be helped and having traffic in the area would complicate construction efforts. Construction time will also be lessened with the road closed, hence saving money.

County Commissioner Josh Brown said the commission made the right decision.

"Instead of the project taking 18 months with one lane of traffic going through the area, by closing the road entirely to traffic, it will only take about a year," Brown said. "That means a 50 percent savings in the time that the project will take."

Brown said in the public outreach efforts made thus far, it seemed clear that residents who travel through the area understood the benefit of having the road closed.

"Even though this will have an impact on people and will be challenging, we heard loud and clear that the less time that the street is closed, the better," he said.

Nelson said the county is working to get drivers to use alternative routes.

"There will be a detour on Ridgetop," she said. "But we have 20,000 cars a day on Bucklin Hill Road and if all of them just take the detour we be gridlocked. That's why we're starting to inform people of the other ways they can get around this area."

For example, she said, a better route to Harrison Medical Center would be to use Highway 3 and get off at Ridgetop, rather than take a detour through the Bucklin Hill Road area.

Detours will be on Ridgetop Boulevard, Myhre Road, Highway 3 and Highway 303.

Nelson said there will be a booth with information about the road closure at Whaling Days in July, and there will be public meetings in the fall and again in the spring of 2014 before construction begins.

No one from the public spoke in favor or opposed to the closure at Monday's meeting, but Century Link and the Central Kitsap Community Council submitted letters supporting the street closure.



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