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Traffic relief coming to dicey intersection

"At rush hour, the chances of quickly and safely turning left onto Tremont Street from Port Orchard Boulevard are iffy at best. At the worst, bleak.So the city of Port Orchard hopes to install three sets of traffic lights at the T intersection by next spring to break up burdensome congestion and lower accident rates.Statistics provided by Port Orchard Police last month show the number of fender-benders and non-serious accidents at the intersection has been rising. The closure of State Route 166 at Ross Point beginning in September was partly to blame. Commuters who typically traveled that route from Port Orchard to Bremerton and vice versa were displaced to Tremont. And now, although the apparent slide-free highway reopened earlier this month at Ross Point, city engineer Larry Curles isn’t convinced that trouble at the Tremont-Port Orchard Boulevard intersection are over.“There are no guarantees that the highway won’t close down again in the future,” he said, noting that the whole area is slide-prone and unstable. In other words, if SR-166 closes for any length of time, commuting woes will only worsen on Tremont. Plus, even if the highway never closes again, the need for traffic lights at Tremont and the boulevard remains.Curles and other city employees have staked out the intersection, counting and recording how many minutes it takes for vehicles to turn onto Tremont from the boulevard. “If you’ve seen someone sitting in a lawn chair at that intersection with a counter, that was us,” Curles said.The no-brainer conclusion was that turning onto Tremont just took too much time and it was just too dangerous. Street lights became the answer, Curles said.With the City Council’s blessing, Curles helped secure federal reimbursement funds for the construction and oversight of three traffic lights, one of which would face west on Tremont while the other faced east. The third light would be located at the south side of Tremont, across from the boulevard.Papers were recently signed guaranteeing the city $206,000 in federal funds for construction purposes and another $13,500 to pay for construction administration. According to Curles, total costs are estimated at $219,500. The city plans to pay roughly $33,500 to make up the rest. Administration funds are required because navigating the necessary permitting tape is too big of a job for the city, Curles said. So the city plans to hire Kitsap County for the job.The traffic-light construction project is expected to go out to bid sometime after the holidays. Construction should be completed by next spring.Federal funds for a timing apparatus were also secured, and that system should be installed by next summer. Curles said the timing device will be coordinated with the other traffic lights on Tremont."

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