The city of Gig Harbor has modestly shortened the stretch of Harborview Drive that will close Monday to southbound traffic for roundabout construction.
Instead of extending from Stinson Avenue to North Harborview Drive, the blockage will go from Stinson to Austin Park to preserve two-way traffic to about 11 businesses such as the Beach Basket gift shop, Public Works Director Jeff Langhelm said Wednesday during a Zoom meeting with impacted parties. A shoulder on each side and a two-way turn lane provides space for cars to turn around.
A resident of the Edgewater condominiums proposed that the city budge the closure a short distance farther south to provide access to residents and Murphy’s Landing Marina users, despite Harborview being skinnier there. Langhelm said the idea would be taken into consideration.
During prep work for the roundabout last fall, flaggers directed alternating traffic on Harborview except for five days when it was shut down entirely. Drivers trying to get around Highway 16 crashes on three of those days dipped into town and created gridlock. This time, Harborview will be closed southbound but open northbound because, “I think it was seen as the easiest, most understandable way to increase traffic as much as possible,” city of Gig Harbor spokeswoman Laura Pettit said early this month.
So northbound (toward Bremerton) travelers should expect slow going through the north end of town while those headed south (toward Tacoma) are diverted to the same detour as during the full closure last year. To get from the Finholm District to Skansie Brothers Park, for example, normally about a mile, drivers will have to go all of the way out Burnham Drive to the Borgen Boulevard roundabouts, cross over the highway, proceed up Sehmel Drive, turn left on Bujacich Road past the fire station and prison, and turn left on Rosedale Street that drops down to the waterfront. Or, they could get on the highway at Borgen.
The city looked into allowing southbound rather than northbound traffic, but there’s slightly more volume headed north and backups would affect more homes and businesses and clog up neighborhoods, Langhelm said.
Harborview can’t be opened each night to two-way traffic because contractor Active Construction will be grading the slope into a nearly level area for the roundabout. At the end of each work day, workers would have to rebuild the second lane and then remove it in the morning, adding at least a month and many dollars to a project that has already been extended, Langhelm said.
The job was originally planned to span from June through October, but unanticipated problems with the sewer relocation arose. The start was delayed and the job broken into two phases. The sewer and water lines were moved between Labor Day and Halloween. Road construction will begin Monday, after avoiding winter weather, and continue through July. The duration was extended from five months to seven months.
Currently, Stinson tees into Harborview to form a three-way intersection. Traffic often backs up the Stinson hill from the stop sign at the bottom, resulting in a failing service level. The streets meet on a corner and make it challenging for vehicles and pedestrians to safely traverse. A roundabout solves those issues, Pettitt said, increasing the level of service to an ‘A’ rating with minimal delay, remedying the geometric challenges and increasing vehicle and pedestrian safety.
The city conducted a listening campaign toward the end of the fall construction and have launched an advanced communications plan. Signs are placed on nearby streets warning of the changes. The city will provide construction updates each Monday on its website and Facebook page. To sign up for text or email alerts when new information is posted, go to https://wa-gigharbor.civicplus.com/list.aspx.
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