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Tunnel ready for July 6 grand opening
The $54 million tunnel project, started in July 2007 to route ferry traffic away from pedestrian traffic in the Bremerton downtown area, is near completion and ready for the July 6 grand opening.
Brenden Clarke, Wash-ington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) project engineer, said the grand opening ceremonies will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will include car clubs, speakers and a walk-through for the public.
Speakers attending the event include Paula Hammond, WSDOT secretary, Congressman Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) and possibly Gov. Christine Gregoire.
“The governor is tentatively scheduled to come, but it is not confirmed yet,” Clarke said.
After the two hours of festivities are complete, the 5:30 p.m. ferry from Seattle to Bremerton will arrive at around 6:30 p.m. and off-load the historic first batch of cars to be directed through the 959-foot-long tunnel which connects the Bremerton Transportation Center (BTC) to Burwell Street.
The tunnel is just about finished, according to Clarke, but work on the final electrical and mechanical systems is being completed and inspection of these systems is next.
Paving above the tunnel is complete, but a few details remain to be “cleaned up,” according to Tom Wilson, project inspector.
Aesthetic items like bricks being placed in pedestrian crossing areas at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Burwell Street and small landscaping projects are still in their finishing stages, but with more than two weeks remaining, the project will be completed in plenty of time, Clarke said.
There was a pleasant surprise for the interior of the tunnel where decorative tiles were proposed, but due to costs and the project being over budget, were scrapped in favor of a lower-cost smooth surface.
The tunnel’s construction team, Tri-State Construction Inc., added silhouettes of trees to the walls, but did so without charging, according to Clarke.
“They had molds of tree silhouettes from a previous project and offered to add them at no cost,” he said.