Letters to the Editor

Bridge, Belfair Bypass still make sense

Back in 1994, the proposed Sinclair Bridge crossing from State Route 16/Tremont over to SR-3/SR-304 Bremerton was estimated at $150 million, with a small floating section in the middle. Today’s cost estimate from the Puget Sound Regional Council on the HOV lanes through Gorst is $948 million, not $800 million -- and you might as well round that off to $1 billion to be realistic.

The Sinclair Bridge crossing knocks 2.5 miles off every trip around Gorst, and it was conservatively estimated to take 80 percent of the traffic flow off the Gorst sections of SR-16/SR-3.

In other words, of the 70,000 currently using the existing route, 56,000 would use the bridge and 14,000 would continue through Gorst.

This 14,000 is pretty ideal for businesses.

However, the $948-million HOV lanes project would require no access through Gorst, so all businesses would have to be relocated at state (taxpayer) expense.

The 2.5-mile trip savings translates into 140,000 miles of travel each day that would be taken off the Gorst run.

That’s a lot of air quality improvement, and a big reduction in traffic accident potential.

But the Belfair Bypass is also a worthy project, so the solution should not be framed as either/or, but both.

Here’s why.

The Sinclair Inlet Bridge can now be built for less than $300 million, leaving $700 million available from the unneeded HOV lanes project to be used on the Belfair Bypass.

Back in 1995, the Belfair Bypass route along the power line easement to Shelton was less than $100 million for the 40-mile run from Gorst past Shelton to SR-101.

Today it’s more expensive, but probably within the $700-million range available from the unneeded HOV lanes through Gorst project.

The airport would get its access fixed, Belfair would get its bypass, there would be a four-land connector to SR-101 by Shelton, and the Sinclair Inlet would have a beautiful new bridge.

What’s not to like?

I didn’t talk about the preservation of the Gorst estuary and other water quality benefits from building a state of the art bridge.

Think about it.

CHARLES SHANK

Port Orchard

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