News

SR 3-303 project ready, but awaits funding

Larry Hugel, a traffic signal technician for the Kitsap County Department of Public Works, changes a light in a crosswalk signal at the intersection of Kitsap Mall Boulevard and Randall Way. Under state and county plans, this intersection could look very different in the years to come. - Rogerick Anas
Larry Hugel, a traffic signal technician for the Kitsap County Department of Public Works, changes a light in a crosswalk signal at the intersection of Kitsap Mall Boulevard and Randall Way. Under state and county plans, this intersection could look very different in the years to come.
— image credit: Rogerick Anas

If you’re driving south on State Route 3, getting on to State Route 303 is simple. Take the East Bremerton exit, follow the ramp around you’re heading east on SR 303.

But if you’re driving north, getting to SR 303 requires taking the Kitsap Mall exit, waiting for the light to change to turn left onto Clear Creek Road, waiting through a second light, and turning right onto Waaga Way for points east.

Believing there has to be an easier way to get from northbound SR 3 to SR 303, the state Department of Transportation is proposing to build a direct connection ramp — if the state’s budget can afford the $13.2 million price tag.

“The design is 95 percent complete,” said John Wynands, WSDOT project manager. “There’s just a few loose ends to finish.”

According to Wynands, the project has several parts.

• A new, single-lane ramp would exit from just north of the current Kitsap Mall ramp and run beneath a new 35-foot-long overpass on Clear Creek Road. The ramp would then run parallel to SR 3 before curling around Home Depot and connecting with SR 303 just west of the Silverdale Way overpass.

• Clear Creek Road and Kitsap Mall Boulevard would be widened by two lanes (and run over a widened, existing freeway overpass) between Randall Way and Waaga Way. This would allow additional left- and right-turn lanes.

• A second left-turn lane would be added to westbound SR 303, alleviating an all-too-familiar backup. A traffic signal also would be added at the intersection of Waaga Way and Clear Creek Road.

• A pond to handle surface-water runoff would be dug within the loop of the current southbound SR 3-to-303 exit ramp. The pond would accommodate drainage from the connection ramp, as well as a new road the county has proposed between Clear Creek and Old Frontier roads.

Wynands said the state has the estimated $1.1 million needed to purchase land for the ramp right-of-way. But there’s no money left in the pot for building any part of the project, which is estimated to take three years.

“The (construction) funding was part of the legislative package which was tabled last year,” said Jon Brand, project manager for the county Department of Public Works. “These interchanges are incredibly expensive to build.”

Despite the lack of funds, Brand said the state is continuing to pursue necessary environmental permits. That way, when construction funds are allocated,the state DOT can proceed immediately.

“We have to get the environmental permits but the big issue is still money,” Wynands said.

The lack of funds is effecting new construction projects state-wide, Wynands said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty in long-term construction funding,” Wynands said. “It’s a common problem with these larger mobility projects which increase capacity.

“We’ll have to watch the Legislature and see how they deal with it. Transportation issues will continue to be a big issue in the next session and we’ll have to see how that shakes out.”

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