Something’s rotten on the Poulsbo boardwalk

POULSBO — After speculation last week that he may have to close the waterfront boardwalk this winter, Public Works Superintendent Bill Duffy said it will stay open.

But that doesn’t mean the path’s problems aren’t severe.

Last week, Duffy reported that maintenance crews had found rot in the causeway that runs from the Sons of Norway hall to American Legion Park. The over-water structure’s 117 stringers, the pieces that support the decking, are nearly all rotted through. Duffy said he planned to have a structural engineer in to look at the boardwalk but warned council members that he might recommend closing the route this winter.

“It’s something to be concerned about and we wanted to make sure we were not subjecting the city to liability,” Duffy explained.

A structural engineer examined the boardwalk Sept. 11 and while a formal report had not been submitted yet, Duffy said he felt the span would likely remain open.

“It’s probably not going to collapse tomorrow but it definitely needs work,” Duffy said of the path.

The causeway was a segment of the plans designed by architect Ken Koehler for Waterfront Park (then, known as Liberty Bay Park) in the 1970s. The ground breaking for the park occurred in 1974 and the boardwalk was built sometime after. The Poulsbo Noon Lions also had a hand adding supports to the structure after it was built. Since its opening, the causeway has become a popular walking route and scenic overlook, especially for viewing Poulsbo’s Third of July fireworks.

Duffy said he plans to submit a Capital Improvement Plan budget item with his 2004 budget. He estimated that the project as a whole will cost about $50,000, including replacing the stringers, decking and side rails. The plan would also make the boardwalk Americans with Disabilities Act accessible and remove current tripping hazards caused by uneven decking boards.

Funding for this proposed project will be decided by the City Council. Duffy said for now he thinks the boardwalk will likely stay open but he’s hoping the facelift can take place soon.

“We’ve reached a point where we’re going to have to put some money into this to keep it open,” he commented. “Obviously, it’s reached the end of its useful life.”

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