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A long way around


Hood Canal Bridge/WADOT road cam

You see some effort on some of the really big projects, but you have to wonder how much effort is made by transportation construction planners to evaluate the impact their projects will have on people who need to, you know, drive there.

Here’s one out of the way for most Northwesterners but a very big deal locally: The Hood Canal Bridge in Washington, which connects the Kitsap Peninsula with the Olympic Peninsula. People who live or work or simply need to travel between the Bremerton-Poulsbo region to the east or the Port Angeles-Sequim-Port Townsend area to the west, use the bridge a lot, and so does a good deal of commercial traffic. There’s a contingent who live on one side of the bridge, and work on the other.

The bridge is something of a choke point. If you want to drive from one peninsula to the other, you can do it, but the shortest route will take you two hours. (A pretty drive, but not a pretty commute.) There are ferries, but their capacity is limited, and the could be real time-munchers when relied on regularly.

The bridge needs repairs. The last time we crossed it, about three years ago, the need seemed to be there just in listening to the bumpy road. The repair is a long-running project, but as part of it, the bridge will be closed to traffic for about six weeks, starting beginning of next month.

So what are commuters and others to do? The Kitsap Sun surveyed a bunch of people, and found widely varied reactions. One commuter suggested she may try camping on the work side of the bridge, rather than face the other options.



The question is how well the Washington Department of Transportation evaluated all this, and the options that are going to be available to drivers, for that six-week stretch?

The WADOT Hood River Bridge web site does suggest some options. One is “drive around,” which would be okay but vacationers, not so wonderful (because of the 2-hour time) for most others. There is a free water shuttle, a ferry of sorts, with 30-minute departure times, which looks like a feasable option; maybe. Then there’s a temporary Port Townsend-Edmonds ferry, for the traffic headed to or from the Seattle area; but that would bypass the Kitsap area and be really time-intensive.

Maybe there are no perfect answers. But the thought process would be enlightening.

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