Slide work will resume

"For the first winter in years, the declivity over State Route 166 has managed to keep from sliding loose into the road.Planners expect to finish this summer a three-year, slope-bolstering project on the unstable hill that should end the slides and consequent road closures that have plagued motorists forced to drive the twisting, two-lane section of highway into Port Orchard.Though the state Department of Transportation delayed a call for bids for slide work on State Route 166 this month, the project is expected to continue relatively on schedule.Department of Transportation project engineer Amity Trowbridge said the agency is awaiting an environmental permit that took longer than expected, which led project coordinators to postpone the call for bids from February to the first week of March.Summer work on two projects is expected to close one lane of SR 166, but Trowbridge said planners do not expect the total road closures experienced last year.About two months after the Department of Transportation goes to bid for contractors, work should begin on the slope, putting the lane closure around May. The project is scheduled for 29 working days, which works out to about six weeks, though Trowbridge said weather conditions could affect the pace of the work.Department of Transportation crews will be conducting safety work between Port Orchard Boulevard and State Route 166, including slope flattening and installing a guardrail. Concurrently, crews will continue slide work near Wilkens Drive.Slide work along State Route 166 began after Jan. 1998, when the Port Orchard City Council passed a resolution asking the state legislature to allocate funds to the Department of Transportation to do something to keep the hill from sliding. The DOT presented project plans in February that year and work began the following year in March 1999.The Ross Point slope sloughs because of the nature of its soil - layers of clay topped with loose gravel. Under heavy rainfall, the clay layers become engorged with water until they can't absorb any more. Gravity does its work and the earth simply slides down the hill.While no slides have been reported this year, the Puget Sound region has also experienced an uncharacteristically dry winter. "

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