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County commits to widen Bucklin Hill

Kitsap County officials plan to move forward on a $16 million road and bridge project to widen and improve Bucklin Hill Road that has been stalled by money problems for years.

The Bucklin Hill Estuary Enhancement and Bridge Construction Project would widen Bucklin Hill Road into four lanes beginning at Blaine Avenue and continue widening the road into five lanes through Mickelberry Road by building a 240-foot abutment bridge across the Clear Creek Estuary.

Tina Nelson, manager of the Bucklin Hill Project for Kitsap County, said the fifth lane would be a dedicated turn lane which would make needed access improvements at Levin Road and the overall project would increase traffic flow on Bucklin Hill Road, which sees an average of 20,000 cars a day.

Plans to fix Bucklin Hill Road date back to 1998, but funding issues have kept the project in limbo. Preliminary engineering on the project would cost $3 million. Land purchases are expected to cost $560,000 and construction costs are estimated at $13 million.

County Commissioner Josh Brown said the county found partial funding for the project through grants in the amount of $5.8 million from the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Brown said the remaining $10 million would come from the county’s dedicated road funds, but the county would continue to seek funding through other grants as well.

Brown said the county is on a short list to receive money from state sources for the project which could be as much as $1.7 million, although the money was not guaranteed.

“The $5.8 million is guaranteed,” Brown said. “But we are on a short list to receive contingency funds left over from other projects throughout the state.”

“We are not guaranteed the 1.7 million,” he said. “But I believe we will receive some of that, which will put about $7 million towards the project.”

Brown said the grant funding would mean that such financial maneuvering would not be necessary. The county will continue to seek grants and other funding sources for the project, but that either way he was committed to making the project happen, he said.

“The only way it will not move forward is if we get a new board of commissioners who kill it,” Brown said. “As long as I am sitting in this seat, it will go through.”

According to Nelson, the project would improve the estuary by allowing a freer flow of water in and out of the area.

“It will now provide a flushing in and out of the estuary which will increase the habitat,” Nelson said. “It will be significant environmental improvement because of that.”

Tex Lewis, spokesman for the Clear Creek Task Force, a group charged with protecting the estuary and the Clear Creek Trail said the group believes the project would have positive impacts on the estuary.

“It would help open up that estuary, and we are looking forward to that,” he said.

Lewis said the group is concerned with changes on possible access to the trail made by the project.

“We’re for the bridge,” Lewis said. “I think it will make a healthier estuary and flush out that area. We just want to make sure that people on both sides have access to the trail.”

Nelson said planning for the project took such concerns into consideration.

“There will be an official trail crossing,” she said. “It will be like it is today with a signal. There will also be provisions made for crossing beneath the bridge, but during high tide you will not be able to cross.”

 

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