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Bridging the gap on the Clear Creek Trail

Ever seen a bridge fly?

A 40,000-pound, 122-foot by 8-foot steel pedestrian bridge was craned into place across Clear Creek along Clear Creek Trail in Silverdale, late Friday morning.

The bridge went in behind Ross Plaza.

The bridge was trucked in by sections. Prepping it by bolting the two sections together on site took far longer than actually picking it up and dropping it in place.

The bridge truly seemed to fly as the 300-ton crane — from Ness Cranes of Seattle — lifted it over 100-foot trees, and gently lowered it in place with the help of construction workers at both ends.

Worker Galen McBeth with Ness Cranes commented it “fit perfectly”

as it was lowered onto prepared concrete pads set with bolts. Tolerances were fractions of an inch.

The workers guided the crane with long ropes dangling from reach end of the bridge.

“This has been in the works for nine years,” said Clear Creek Park project coordinator Tex Lewis, a member of CK Community Council. He estimated the total cost of the bridge — manufacture and installation — at about $100,000. He pointed out that most of the trail-building work was done by thousands of Eagle Scouts over the years.

“We’ll probably have a dedication for the bridge in September,” he said.

Dennis Oost with Kitsap County parks commented on the size of the bridge.

“It’s long enough and wide enough so that we can fit a whole class of kids on there when the salmon are running,” he said.

The pedestrian bridge can 5,000 pound load limit, said Todd Vinje, a principal with Bridge America, out of Alexandria, Minn. — the company that made the bridge.

“If you had a vehicle skinny enough, you could drive a car across that bridge,” he said, adding that the rustic yellow-colored steel had been specially treated to be maintenance free indefinitely.

“Eventually it’ll settle down into a nice (earth) brown color — to match its surroundings,” he said.

Workers had to remove a few trees to make room for the bridge. However, once the bridge was in place, onlookers commented it looked like it had always been there.

Randy Peterson, unofficial volunteer “maintenance supervisor” for the park, said since the park was first conceived a decade ago, they converted the old Red Barn near Bucklin Hill Road N.W. to a an Interpretive Center, added two picnic areas behind the bowling alley and near Bucklin Hill Road, benches throughout, and thousands of feet of graveled trial. There’s also 1,000 feet of boardwalk and another 800 feet will be installed this summer. Plus restrooms are in the works. The trail is on both sides of Clear Creek, which flows from north to south through the center of Silverdale, and empties into Dyes Inlet.

The creek is surrounded by a ribbon of woods and sits behind major commercial areas east and west. The original concept behind the park was to have a place were workers could take a lunch break and children could study nature. The park is filled with rare species of plants, said Lewis.

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