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Traffic tieups on Tremont all too common

"Port Orchard Police have learned that when congestion on Tremont Street doubles, so does the number of accidents.Since the closure of State Route 166 at Ross Point on Sept. 7 for anti-slide repairs, commuters who typically take that route from Port Orchard to Bremerton and vice versa have been displaced to Tremont.Now Tremont is dealing with about twice the traffic and twice the accident rate. “Whereas before the closure of the highway we had about one or two calls a week, we now have about one or two a day,” said police Sgt. Dennis McCarthy. “What you have to keep in mind is that street is handling more traffic than what it was designed for.”Actual police statistics go a long way in verifying this generality. Accident reports recorded over the last month show that “non-serious” accidents have occurred on Tremont every other day. Before the closure, fender benders occurred once a week, at most.While the numbe of accidents has changed, the type hasn’t.“The accidents we respond to are usually rear-ends and fender benders without any serious injury,” McCarthy explained.Pre-closure, Tremont normally handled about 18,000 car trips on a given day, said city engineer Larry Curles. A “car trip” is counted as one vehicle traveling west or east along Tremont at any time along. Local state Department of Transportation engineer Amity Trowbridge said that SR-166 normally handled about that much, as well.“It’s safe to say that when you have a lot more cars on a road, you will have more accidents,” Curles said.According to police, recent accidents on Tremont invariably occur in the westbound lanes between Port Orchard Boulevard and Pottery Avenue.One problematic zone is on the west end of the intersection at Pottery and Tremont, where two lanes merge into one. Fender benders and rear-end accidents run rampant there, police said. While many drivers obediently line up along the left lane, others in the right lane surge forward, knowing full well a merge is imminent.The other, perhaps more dangerous zone is the “T” intersection at Port Orchard Boulevard and Tremont. Most accidents happen there when drivers try to turn right or left onto Tremont from the boulevard. Noticing stranded commuters at that intersection, fellow drivers traveling westbound on Tremont often slow down or stop if traffic is particularly heavy, allowing their compatriots a spot.Drivers in adjacent lanes rarely realize this is happening, though, and consequently, Tremont drivers tend to smack into those turning off of the boulevard.The combination of increased congestion and these potential bottlenecks has created harried drivers and an accident trap. Police thought about and tried to station a traffic-control officer at this hot spot during rush hour, but the effort proved too costly. Allocating one officer to that spot for a certain length of time meant the rest of Port Orchard received significantly less attention at the busiest time of day.The Ross Point hillside buttress project is expected by officials to be complete by Nov. 3, within the 45 days allowed in the contract between the state and Scoccolo Construction. The highway will reopen after work is finished."

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