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Lower Wheaton Way Project is proving to be costly

In the midst of cost overruns on Pacific Avenue street work, City of Bremerton officials are scrambling to figure out a way to pay for another street project that has not even gotten underway.

The Lower Wheaton Way Project, which would make improvements from the roundabout at the Manette Bridge all the way to Lebo Boulevard, is slated to cost about $2.3 million, according to consultants from Gray & Osborne, a Seattle engineering firm.

The problem is the city only has about $2 million on hand for the work.

The work was meant to entail repaving the roadway, adding sidewalks, bike lanes and lighting. City ratepayers will cover the costs associated with sewer, water and stormwater improvements.

Bremerton got a $1.4 million grant for the project from the state’s Transportation Improvement Board in 2010.

“The issue with Lower Wheaton Way is this grant was submitted a long time ago,” said Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin. “We’re at the very end of the time when we can actually execute that project. So the thing has languished for years. It wasn’t submitted with enough money to do this project. It’s over a mile long from the roundabout up to the intersection at Cherry and Lebo. So, funding is a serious issue with the project. The main feature that we can’t let go of is a big wide sidewalk on the waterside of that project.”

Martin told the city council in a study session last week that his department has also put together a list of other features that they don’t want to let go of, such as lighting, a sidewalk on the other side of the street and some intersection reconfiguration.

“We’re looking at alt sources of funding,” Martin said. “We know we can get additional funding from the Transportation Improvement Board through basically just a signature of the executive director. But, to get additional money from TIB would require us to go the board meeting, that may then not work exactly right. There are just a bunch of issues with the money.”

Martin said some funding could also be made available through the city’s Transportation Benefit District.

“The reason this got rolled into the Transportation Benefit District is it’s one of the options we’ve identified for possible funding,” he said. “Should the council determine that this one time, one shot deal, here’s our chance, this is a feature we’ve gotta have, then one of those possible funding sources would be the Transportation Benefit District. That’s why we’ll be discussing this at the TBD.”

Regardless of where the money comes from, Martin said some tough decisions will likely have to be made.

“So, the hard decision that’s gonna be made is what project features we can afford and in addition, what form of the contract we use going forward to get a price for thsoe features and determine which of those features we have enough money to pay for.”

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