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Bremerton tunnel project moves forward

Work on the Bremerton tunnel is expected to be completed July 2009. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Work on the Bremerton tunnel is expected to be completed July 2009.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Digging complete, traffic detours unchanged.

The digging in Bremerton’s version of the “Big Dig” or the Bremerton tunnel project was completed Monday afternoon and is another good sign for the much discussed project, which began construction July of last year.

The tunnel will connect the Bremerton Transportation Center (BTC) to Burwell Street, improving pedestrian safety and local traffic flow in downtown Bremerton by removing approximately 65 percent of offloading ferry traffic from Washington Avenue. Other modifications to the downtown roadway system will provide continued access for offloading local ferry traffic headed to the Manette Bridge and beyond, improve access to the BTC for incoming traffic and complete a major link in the city’s Combined Sewer Outflow (CSO) Reduction project, according to the state department of transportation.

Despite torrential rains in December and concerns about contaminated soil near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the doomsday scenarios for the $30.7 million project have never materialized.

Instead, everything is progressing better than anticipated, although the completion date remains some time around July 2009, said Washington State Department of Transportation Project Engineer Brenden Clarke.

“We’re ahead of our revised schedule, and we just poured the first floor for the second phases of the project today,” Clarke said.

The concrete work on the second phase signals the end of the excavation component of the project, he said, adding that now that the excavation is complete, there is some good news concerning the project’s budget.

“We’re still within our estimate, but there was less contaminated soil than we thought, which is about $100,000 in savings,” he said, noting that it’s still too early to say with any certainty that the project will remain under budget.

Crews removed about 100 cubic yards of contaminated soil, and everything appears to be right on track, according to Clarke.

As the project moves ahead, motorists shouldn’t see any changes to the current traffic flow for the remainder of the summer, he said.

Once the tunnel itself is completely poured for phase two, backfill operations will commence and the project should be completed by July 2009.

“So far, so good,” Clarke said. “We’re a little ahead of schedule and under budget.”

Updates on the tunnel project can be found online at the project’s Web site, www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR304/BremertonTunnel/.

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