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Troubled waters for proposed bridges

"It was obvious from the first map that some of the possible improvements for the State Route 303 Bremerton to Silverdale Corridor Study wouldn't make the first cut, much less the final cut.For example, take the proposed bridge across Dyes Inlet, connecting Newberry Hill and Fairgrounds roads, which would be widened to four lanes to accomodate the increased traffic.That was one of six possible alternatives proposed recently by the state Department of Transportation to relieve congestion on Wheaton Way and the Warren Avenue Bridge.At what point are you going to have a reality check? asked Paul Pazzoli, one of several community stakeholders, or people with vested interests in the project.A few (of the alternatives) will get screened out of the process fairly quickly, said project consultant John Perlic of Parametrix, Inc.. Our intent is to get comments on the alternatives.Juanita Jackson, a transportation planner with the state Department of Transportation, acknowledged that not all the proposals were necessarily viable.We're only culling ideas. We've taken all the alternatives and put them down on paper, she said.Bremerton city councilman Wayne Olson, one of the stakeholders, wasn't impressed with proposed crossings from Rocky Point to Riddell Road or Erlands Point to Sylvan Way.Neither of them are that great. They're too isolated, he said.The alternatives fell into four categories: new crossings, arterial improvements, SR 303 capacity improvements, and management and operations improvements. The latter involved items such as transit, high occupancy vehicles and signal priority.Other bridges were proposed from Naval Avenue to Pine Road, widening Naval to 11th Street and Pine to McWilliams; Pacific Avenue to Wheaton Way, widening 16th Street and Pacific; and widening the Manette Bridge, as well as 11th from the bridge to Perry, and Perry from 11th to Riddell.We believe this exhausts anything even remotely feasible, Perlic said of the suggested crossings. What we're looking at is a long-range solution for 20 years in the future and beyond.The crossing at Pine and Naval came up most often, Perlic said.Another proposal would widen the Warren Avenue Bridge by one lane in each direction. But, Perlic noted, some of the arterial changes east and west of 303 will result in different impacts to communities and some environments. Widening the Warren Avenue Bridge to six lanes will obviously have some impact on property. Whether we keep (that alternative) I don't know, but we thought it was important to consider it, Perlic said.Widening 303 to six or seven lanes from 11th Street to Fairgrounds Road, with a reversible lane and HOV lanes, was greeted with skepticism by at least one stakeholder.I don't see how it's going to happen. On Wheaton Way the buildings are right at the sidewalk, said Pazzoli.All of these offer trade-offs ... to some degree they're all going to have difficulties, said Perlic. Arterial, or main road, improvements included extending Perry Avenue to McWilliams Road; extending Almira to McWilliams, and widening and improvements on Pine, McWilliams and Central Valley roads.Pine can be widened by one lane. It can carry a lot more traffic than it does today, Perlic said.He said officials were looking at accomodating a 50 percent increase in traffic on the highway by the year 2020.The alternatives were culled from previous meetings with the public, a technical committee, and the stakeholders.The project seeks to improve efficiency on the north-south highway as well as the secondary roads and connecting crossroads.Other alternatives demonstrated on the maps, such as operation improvements, included a drop-off ramp from eastbound 303 to Harrison Hospital in Silverdale; eliminating two-way left turn lanes on Wheaton while adding u-turn routes and a barrier/median from Dawn Road south; and adding bus pull-outs, synchronizing signals and using road message signs such as those on SR 3.Jackson said they'll put the alternatives through a traffic modeling program throughout the rest of the month, and bring the results back to the stakeholders in June.The spirit of cooperation among agencies is very good here, very high. It's usually a sign something is going to happen at the end of this, Jackson said. "

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