In our opinion ...

An underground tunnel in Bremerton?

Maybe, maybe not.

The proposed tunnel would be a win-lose situation if it were to be built. On one hand, it would alleviate some vehicle traffic downtown. On the other hand, if ferry users were to drive through newly renovated downtown and like what they see, they are more likely to stop. If they don’t see it, they won’t stop.

See the problem?

While it may seem that the city is on the fast track to getting an underground tunnel to help ease traffic congestion from the Kitsap Transportation Center to the freeway, right now the project is still just a lightbulb above Mayor Cary Bozeman’s head.

The whole theory behind the tunnel is this: the city has done traffic surveys that estimate about 200 cars every hour drive off the ferry and down Washington Street, turn on Burwell Street and head to the freeway.

The city’s studies prove that those drivers are focused on getting off the ferry and going straight to the freeway; they have no intention of stopping downtown.

That’s OK for now, but the traffic pattern does not jive with the city’s new vision, Bozeman said Tuesday afternoon.

In the next five years, the downtown area is going to change drastically: new condominiums will be built on the corner of Second Street and Washington Avenue; the government center and the conference center/hotel will be complete; the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is working on building a parking garage and there is a possibility of a stadium-style movie theater in the heart of downtown.

When these projects are completed, these 200 cars that pass through downtown every hour would make the area very pedestrian unfriendly.

That’s where Bozeman’s tunnel would come in handy.

The current plan (plan being the operative word) calls for the tunnel to be built under Pacific Avenue, thus diverting those cars away from downtown and directly to Burwell Street.

The proposed tunnel is far from a done deal, regardless of what the street chatter may be. The people have to have a say first.

Then the city council will make the ultimate decision.

Bozeman knows it will be a tough sale, both to the community and the council.

He says he’s ready for the battle.

Whatever the destination will be, the road trip will be fun to watch.

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