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Downtown getting construction this summer

City of Port Orchard Public Works Director Maher Abed outlined upcoming Bay Street improvements to a small group on Monday evening, describing projects that will have portions of the road under construction from the end of March through September.

During the meeting, Abed and Washington State Department of Transportation Field Engineer Tom Barton fielded questions regarding the undergrounding of wire-based utilities in the downtown core and the road improvements on Bay Street from State Route 16 to Bethel Avenue.

The utility undergrounding will begin at the end of March, bringing phone, electrical and Internet connections below ground at several locations.

Abed said the undergrounding will move unsafe wires out of the way and improve the city’s overall look.

“If you shop downtown, you see a lot of the problems we have with the overhead conduit lines,” he said. “They’re currently unsafe and a disturbing aesthetic for the city.”

One line runs from Geiger Pharmacy along the north side of Bay Street to the intersection at Bay and Frederick Avenue. Other lines run along Frederick Avenue and Sidney Avenue.

Three buildings will have to replace their utility connection, which Puget Sound Energy Municipal Liaison Manager Dana Marie Smith estimates will run each business $1,500 to $3,000.

Two businesses, Bucksnort Espresso and About Floors Inc., will have to pay for the installation themselves. The city will be paying for a reconnection at the Port Orchard branch of the Kitsap Regional Library.

Abed explained that the city wanted to underground all the utilities, but determined that the $1.2 million estimate was too high and that it was too difficult to predict what downtown’s future redevelopment would look like. Abed estimated the new plan will cost the city $226,000.

“It didn’t make any sense to do that in the absence of those plans,” Abed said. “We scaled down our work into a smaller version of what we wanted to do.”

As new redevelopments come in, Abed said the city can facilitate the undergrounding at each building.

The undergrounding will be complete before WSDOT begins surface work on Bay Street.

From SR-16 to Port Orchard Boulevard, Barton said the state is going to overlay the state owned and operated highway. From there to Bethel, WSDOT will grind down the street surface and then relay a new surface.

The grinding process is to ensure the street level stays well enough below the sidewalk to maintain drainage.

The $1.5 to $2 million project is set to begin in June, with crews working 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, ending at the beginning of September.

“The end product is going to be a better Bay Street when this is all done,” Abed said.

For more information on the project, call the Public Works Department at (360) 867-4991.

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