Bremerton officials consider three options for Washington Avenue

Folks will have a chance to weigh in on three options for reconfiguring Bremerton’s Washington Avenue between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge during an open house scheduled to run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at the Norm Dicks Government Center.

In a 5-1 vote, the city council recently approved spending $321,000 with Parametrix, a local engineering firm that regularly does business with the city, to come up with three different configurations. The ultimate goal is to widen sidewalks and make room for bicyclists, something that has been a goal of the city’s for several years and is outlined in a variety of long-range planning documents.

The project is being funded through a $1.7 million state pedestrian and bicycle grant. The first option Parametrix will provide details on would reduce Washington Avenue from two lanes in both directions to just one lane in each direction. That configuration proved somewhat unpopular during a Public Works test of the single-lane concept that ran April 21-24.

“The first day was the most difficult — the commute ended that day at 4:33,” noted Public Works Director Chal Martin. “We made a couple of changes to the channelization setup, and the second and third days were better, with the commute ending at 4:30 and 4:29, respectively.”

Martin said the rush hour commute period typically ends at 4:23 p.m., but noted that it can finish up a bit earlier. On Monday, April 28, for example, the commute ended at 4:21 p.m.

“This test informed us that the worst case for delay in this configuration was 12 minutes,” Martin said. “However, the traffic setup was very crude; the signals at Sixth and the bridge were not coordinated and at times worked against each other; therefore, we would expect a significant improvement once a properly constructed project was in place.”

Another option that will be explored further by Parametrix would be to make Washington one-way northbound, while turning Pacific Avenue into one-way southbound.

The third option is described as a “couplet configuration” in which Washington Avenue would be converted to two northbound one-way lanes, and southbound traffic would be handled by Pacific Avenue

The lone vote against funding Parametrix to explore the three options in detail was cast by council member Mike Sullivan, who said the city cannot afford to keep diverting more and more traffic onto Warren Avenue and Wheaton Way.

In addition to all of the street work, the city will be making various utility improvements as part of the project.

The utility work will include the abandonment of the failing six-inch sanitary sewer main located in the beach below Washington Avenue.

The existing sewer main serves the residences above the steep Port Washington Narrows beach area and has a history of minor failures.

Due in part to the frequent maintenance and repairs needed to the main, along with environmental concerns, a new sanitary main will be laid in Sixth Street up to the Manette Bridge.

Residences on the waterside that currently have wastewater service via the beach sewer will have grinder pumps installed that intercept the flow and pump it to the new main in the street.

The utility project is a continuation of work being completed in 2014 north of the Manette Bridge.

The city is expecting to award a contract for the project and begin construction in April 2015.

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