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Final phase of Ross Point work begins

The bad news: State Route 166 near Ross Point will be closed Friday morning for the first of several weeks to come.

The good news: It will hopefully be the last time the unstable cliffs will stop traffic.

“This is the final phase,” said Project Engineer John McNutt, explaining that the 12-year process of securing Ross Point’s landslide-prone hillsides is coming to an end.

For this final phase, McNutt said crews will first remove unstable material from the slopes, then begin to buttress the last three sections of hillside in the same manner as the other sections.

Although the covering of chunky rock may not look like the most stable surface to passing motorists, DOT officials said the method has proved very effective.

“We haven’t had any problems with the other sections,” McNutt said, including the most notorious sliders on Ross Point that were systematically buttressed between 1992 and 2000 in a multi-phase process.

Officials said all slide areas which have buttressing — even the ones stabilized 10 years ago — have stayed put since then.

Because of the intensity of the work — trucks will be removing thousands of cubic yards of soil and other hill material and replacing it with a thick layer of rock — Bay Street will be closed between Port Orchard Boulevard and State Route 16 for the duration of the project, which is expected to last until Labor Day weekend.

“It would be impossible give them the room to maneuver without closing the road,” he said.

Although SR-166 will be closed starting late Thursday night, it will re-open for approximately 10 days starting Aug. 6 to accommodate the Cruz Car Show and Festival by the Bay.

“We take into account the needs of the local community,” McNutt said, explaining that the road will close again on Aug.16 until Sept. 3.

The $7.5 million originally budgeted for Ross Point slide repairs in 1992 — paid for by the state and federal government — was meant to be a one-time bulk sum.

The idea was to deal with all of the slide area’s problems in one go, instead of spending a little every year on Band-Aid fixes.

This, the last phase of the project, was estimated to cost approximately $4.5 million — a price nearly equal to the cost of all previous Ross Point slide projects combined.

Wilder Construction gave DOT a low-bid estimate of $3.2 million, well within the project’s budget.

McNutt said crews will begin preparing to close the road Thursday evening and he expects they will have it closed by 10 p.m. Signs will direct traffic up Port Orchard Boulevard to Tremont Street, he said, which motorists can use to reach State Route 16.

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