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Kingston celebrates start of bridge project
KINGSTON —Even as surveyors went to work on the Stillwaters Fish Passage last week, the realization of the decade-long effort was still sinking in for supporters.
"I've said for the longest time, I can't really exhale until I see the bulldozer in the driveway," said Naomi Maasberg, administrative director at Stillwaters Environmental Center. "I can see the bridge, I can see the culvert gone and I can see the water flowing slowly."
The project will replace a narrow channel beneath South Kingston Road with a 70-foot-long bridge. The wider opening will allow water to flow more naturally between Appletree Cove and the Carpenter Creek estuary, a wetland used heavily by fish and other marine wildlife.
Planning for the project began in the early 1990s, but stalled several times in the following decade. Work began this month after $2.8 million was included for the project in the state budget last year.
A celebration of the groundbreaking for the bridge Thursday took on the feeling of a class reunion. Volunteers, politicians, planners and activists involved in the effort gathered at the South Kingston Road site to share their excitement.
"I think this is a true example of what a partnership is to get things done," John Meyer of the Puget Sound Partnership said.
In coming weeks, SB Structures of Seattle will construct a temporary bridge on the estuary side of the road maintain two lanes of traffic during the project. A section of roadway will be removed and regraded. The new bridge will be constructed out of pre-cast concrete sections. Kitsap County Public Works is overseeing the project.
On Thursday, State Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge, commended Kingston residents for their steadfast support of the bridge. The restored estuary will be a model for habitat improvement elsewhere in Puget Sound she said.
"It's exciting," she said. "It's going to be really fun to see it done."