Weight limit posted on Washington Boulevard

KINGSTON — A road north of downtown Kingston known to Kitsap County officials as being historically unstable, given its location on a steep bluff, is living up to its reputation this week.

The county reduced the allowable vehicle weight limit on Washington Boulevard to no more than five tons, or 10,000 pounds, due to recently discovered ground movement beneath the road surface. The restriction went into effect Saturday.

The weight restriction is a precautionary measure put in place while an emergency engineering analysis is conducted, said Kitsap County Public Works department spokesman Doug Bear.

“Anytime we see (ground movement), we’re certainly concerned,” Bear said.

Geotechnican consultants initially determined the street wasn’t in immediate danger, and as a result, the county restricted the weight limit as opposed to closing the road. During the weekend and earlier this week, technicians worked to complete an investigation of the situation, Bear said, which is expected to be done by today.

The cause of the problem is unknown, Bear said.

While a waterline did break within the same vicinity following the powerful rain and wind storm that took place Feb. 4, it is uncertain whether that break caused the ground to shift. Regardless, it has stopped moving, Bear said.

Because of the weight restriction, emergency medical service vehicles, such as fire engines and ambulances, cannot use the road, therefore keeping such public services from Washington Blvd. residents.

The approximately 25 homes along the road were “yellow-tagged” and residents were notified of the situation Saturday morning by the various agencies involved, including public works, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, and the county’s code enforcement and emergency management departments. The residents were not told to leave but were made aware of the fact that they were taking a risk by remaining in their homes, said code enforcement manager Steve Mount.

“There’s nothing wrong with the structure(s) we can tell at this point,” Mount said. “It’s just the lack of emergency medical services. They are staying there at their own risk.”

Even so, NKF&R spokeswoman Michéle Laboda said the agency is trying to come up with alternative methods for service.

NKF&R officials are looking into using a lightweight ambulance that is already within their fleet as one option for medical calls or a brush truck instead of a full-size fire engine to respond to fires.

Regardless, there will most likely be a delay in response to residences within the affected area, Laboda said, and she wants to make sure residents are aware of this.

“We’ll do whatever we can to get to them but this restriction presents significant challenges to us,” she said.

But it doesn’t mean residents shouldn’t call 911, Laboda added.

“We want (residents) to call us sooner rather than later,” she said. “People need to know we can’t guarantee a response to that area right now but we’ll do everything we can.”

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