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Dangerous SR-16 intersection to finally get a fix?
After years of promises and false starts, steps are now in the works that may finally bring an overpass to the Burley-Olalla interchange along State Route 16.
Located in unincorporated Kitsap County, the intersection is the last at-grade (meaning one that does not have its own on-ramp) entry point on the road connecting Port Orchard and Tacoma. It has been the site of many serious accidents over the years.
This has been a dangerous intersection for many years, said Kitsap County Sheriffs Department Spokesman Scott Wilson. You need to cross through traffic that is traveling at freeway speed. And even if it looks like there is plenty of room to get through, traffic is still moving at 75 feet per second. So it can be deceiving.
A request for proposal is currently active, with construction on the project due to begin in August. The Washington State Department of Transportations latest projection is that it will take about a year to complete, with the overpass opening in August 2010.
Available funding for the project includes $27.2 million in gas tax monies and $106,169 of existing funds.
Bids could exceed that amount or come in less, and it is expected that increased gas prices will have some effect on the bid total, although the latest engineers estimate projects a cost of under $20 million.
Bids are scheduled to be opened on June 18.
While some bids may have been received at this point, any bid information is now confidential.
Separate overpasses for northbound and southbound traffic are to be built, with SR-16 then passing over the reconnected Burley-Olalla road.
During construction that road will be closed, with no access to SR-16 for that period.
Additionally, the SR-16 speeds will be reduced to 40 mph until completion.
Bicycle traffic will also be channeled to alternate routes, such as Bethel-Burley Rd.
Currently, speed is reduced to 50 mph through the intersection.
Once the overpass is built, it will be 60 mph.
Utility work on the intersection was recently completed, with Puget Sound Energy and Qwest Communications installing the necessary electronic infrastructure.
During a recent visit to Port Orchard, 26th District State Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) called the intersections refurbishing an important safety project, saying that he and other local lawmakers fought to keep it in the latest budget.