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Prepping for a ‘concrete eyesore’
Judy Parr, owner of Tease Boutique and Salon across from the Manette Bridge, will miss the iconic 80-year-old structure, a classic steel bridge to be replaced by a more generic concrete bridge akin to the Warren Avenue Bridge.
More than that, she is dreading the all-day noise of the construction, something that will be “super annoying” to her clients.
“It’s a little piece of history that’s going to be gone,” she said, adding that the new bridge will be a “concrete eyesore.”
Construction on the new bridge is set to begin in the second or third week of July, said Brendan Clark, project engineer at the state Department of Transportation. But in the run-up to to the construction, the city and Manette business owners are not just worried about the appearance of the bridge, but the disruption the process might impose on businesses.
The first impacts of construction will be the daytime noise resulting from the trusses that will be set up in the water, Clark said. Residents and businesses will hear that noise for about eight to 10 hours each day for a few weeks.
But the bridge’s temporary closure next year is what has the city and businesses most worried about the construction. Though the old Manette Bridge will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists, it will be closed to traffic for four months sometime between April and October 2011, forcing drivers who wish to cross the Washington Narrows to take the Warren Avenue Bridge a mile away.
“It think it’s definitely going to slow business down,” said Nikki White, owner of Nikki’s Coffee Spot on East 11th Street, adding that if people have to take a longer way to Manette, they’ll just find closer businesses.
Bremerton Managing Engineer Larry Matel said the city wants the state to offer the builders incentives for reducing the length of the bridge’s closure, but no such agreement is in place.
“I know the businesspeople in Manette are very concerned about the closure of the bridge for that period of time,” Matel said.
Clark said that because the Warren Avenue Bridge will serve as a back-up, the Manette Bridge’s closure will not impose too much of a strain.
“The Warren Avenue Bridge should be able to accommodate the full closure,” he said. “Motorists shouldn’t be impacted too severely.”
Bremerton officials, however, see it differently.
“I know the city doesn’t agree with the Department of Transportation’s viewpoint,” Matel said.
Parr said the closure’s impact on Manette business will likely be minimal.
“I think it will affect business somewhat, but most people who come to Manette treat it as a destination, anyway,” she said.
A bigger concern for the Tease salon is the traffic flow when the bridge is finished — specifically the roundabout that will be built on the Manette side of the bridge.
“It’s just going to be a disaster,” Tease employee Tessa Pike said, adding that the roundabout could back up traffic. “It’s going to take a lot longer for everybody.”
White at Nikki’s Coffee Spot said her customers are afraid it will be dangerous, especially for pedestrians.
Nonetheless, what the workers at Tease discussed the most was the sentimental value of the old bridge outside their front door that will soon be gone.
“We love looking at that bridge,” Pike said.