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Bremerton’s big dig nears completion

An artist’s rendering shows how traffic through the Bremerton tunnel will operate upon completion. - Courtesy graphic
An artist’s rendering shows how traffic through the Bremerton tunnel will operate upon completion.
— image credit: Courtesy graphic

Tunnel should open

this summer.

The $30.7 million Bremerton tunnel project is nearing completion this spring and along with it, the days of traffic clogging up downtown Bremerton when the Bremerton ferry arrives are coming to an end as well.

For years, pedestrians in downtown Bremerton bravely dared to cross Pacific and Washington avenues when the ferry arrived from Seattle, but thanks in large part to the efforts of Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman and Congressman Norm Dicks, the journey will be safer.

“We should be finished up by late June or early July,” WSDOT project engineer Brendan Clarke said.

Clarke said the first week or so after the tunnel opens might create some confusion for commuters, but it shouldn’t take long for that confusion to dissipate.

“We could open up Burwell Street some time in June, but we’ll see,” he said, noting that in the next month or so another lane of traffic on Pacific Avenue should be available for motorists.

Work on the ferry administration building is well underway and motorists as well as pedestrians shouldn’t expect any more major changes to their travel routes as the project nears completion, he said.

According to the Washington state Department of Transportation Web site, the project increases safety for pedestrians and motorists.

It provides congestion relief by diverting about 65 percent of off-loading ferry traffic directly onto Burwell Street and away from the Washington Avenue waterfront area, according to the Web site.

The project also improves incoming ferry traffic management by creating an additional lane on Pacific Avenue to accommodate transit and vanpool traffic; a larger vehicle holding area at the Bremerton Transportation Center; and repositioned toll booths that can handle oversized vehicles in any lane, according to the Web site.

The project broke ground in July 2007 and, for the most part, has remained on schedule throughout its duration despite the record rainfalls in December 2007 and other minor issues, which were quickly resolved by the contractor, Tri-State Construction Inc.

Throughout the project, traffic has been detoured periodically to accommodate the project’s progression, but for the most part, traffic has not been adversely impacted because of the project.

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