Wall designed to hold back Newberry Hill

"Newberry Hill Road is getting a little bit safer, thanks to a wall designed to withstand 250,000 pounds of pressure.“It’s amazing to me,” said Doug Bear, the public information programs supervisor for the Kitsap County Department of Public Works. “It’s not just a wall.”Expected to be completed by early December, phase I of the Newberry Hill slope stabilization project is entering its final stages – the concrete wall is being finished, a concrete gutter for water run-off is being installed and a 4-feet chain-link fence is being placed on the top of the wall.“This project has evolved through a different number of processes,” said Gary Ekstedt, engineering manager for the Newberry Hill project and other construction projects throughout the county.The project has been in the works for more than two and a half years. Construction began in August 1998.The $2.3 million wall is believed to have a life expectancy of 30-50 years.When completed, the wall will have a unique black-and-tan appearance. The tan portion of the wall is made up of untreated hemlock that will eventually rot – although county engineers are certain that even when the wood goes bad, the frame of the wall will ensure it continues to work properly.The black portion of the wall is comprised of a plastic mat, with holes allowing drainage.Ekstedt said the wall was designed to be conscience of both heavy rainfall and other weather conditions that erode the land. In fact, the entire project was begun due to poor weather conditions. In past years, mudslides have closed Newberry Hill Road for extended periods during especially stormy winters. An inspector has reported on the Newberry Hill site every day since construction began. On any given day, a crew of about 20 have been working on the 250-foot structure.Ekstedt said Public Works hasn’t received too many complaints from Newberry Hill and West-Central Kitsap County residents who must drive by the project every day. And, Eksted said, DPW crews were able to save most of the vegetation above the wall.Klahowya Secondary School principal Lee Marcum, whose school is located just a few blocks from the project, said the roadwork has not posed any major problems for school staff or students. He said buses have adjusted their routes slightly, but the road has mostly remained clear and accessible.Completion of the wall will bring phase I of the project to an end. Phase II will be the completion of a three-lane roadway — two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane."

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