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Fjord Drive stabilization should be completed in November

The Fjord Drive slope is currently being stabilized in the final stage of construction. - Megan Stephenson / Herald
The Fjord Drive slope is currently being stabilized in the final stage of construction.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

POULSBO — The final stage of the Fjord Drive stabilization project has begun and is expected to be completed on schedule. Assistant Public Works Director Andrzej Kasiniak said the road should be open for two-way traffic in November.

The slope leading into Liberty Bay has been leveled and surveyed, and contractor Soil Nail Launcher of Colorado is beginning a heavy schedule to finish the project. Crew will work seven days on, four days off, 12 hours a day and are expected to be finished in two to four weeks, according to employee Tom Dillavou.

Using soil nails is a common form of slope stabilization, Dillavou said. The project involves 200 steel tendons drilled and grouted into the soil, followed by a reinforcing mesh, and topped with a spray coating of “shotcrete,” a liquid concrete. A color stain may then be applied to match the natural surroundings. Below the slope is a leveled off, flat area where micropiles, or ground anchors, will also be drilled.

Kasiniak said the contractor installed the silt fence at the bottom of the slope, to ensure debris doesn’t enter the bay.

"The city inspects the site several times a day to ensure that the project will not affect Liberty Bay,” he added.

The slope stabilization project also affected local utilities: a “brittle” water main was replaced, and a Puget Sound Energy utility pole was moved from the slope side to across the street.

The project originally called for two sections of the slope to be stabilized, separated by 28 feet thought to be secure. However, workers discovered this week the entire 350-foot stretch was at risk of erosion. Kasiniak said an earthquake would compromise the road and allow sewage to leak into the bay.

“This is the highway project that keeps on giving,” Mayor Becky Erickson said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.  “... We don’t have any real choice in this development” not to approve the additional cost.

The city was granted $475,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to repair landslide damage on Fjord Drive; and $276,337 from the state Department of Ecology for the Old Town Poulsbo Low Impact Development Retrofit project, aimed to improve water quality in Liberty Bay.

The total cost for the 6th Avenue project is $379,900; the Fjord Drive budget is $814,000, with the additional $102,000 the council approved. Kasiniak said this number is not final, as the contractor may use less nails than originally called for.

Because the City Council decided Fjord would remain a two-way street earlier this year, no trail or landscaping will be added to the road. Landscaping was added to 6th Avenue to stem stormwater runoff into Liberty Bay.

Fjord Drive resident Will Grant said the noise of the construction hasn’t been that bad, and less traffic has been great for road safety.

“People usually zip by,” he said from his front porch.

Those drivers seem to still be speeding along 6th Avenue, the detour road. Allen Ford, who lives on 6th, said while he hasn’t been directly affected by the heavier traffic, “something needs to be done” about those driving over 25 mph after Fjord Drive is completed.

Fjord Drive between Front Street and 6th Avenue has been closed to southbound traffic since November 2009 because of slides in two areas. One-way access remained available for people living along the road, but right turns from Front Street onto Fjord Drive have not been permitted since then.

Fjord Drive resident Gene Fullerton said despite the signs blocking southbound traffic and detours to 6th Avenue, and despite talks with the mayor and police, enforcement is not a current priority. He reminds non-local residents to respect the road signs and not drive Fjord.

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