Another bridge construction project in Gig Harbor is about to begin.
The nearly $5 million, yearlong Donkey Creek Restoration and Transportation Project will include construction of an 80-foot pedestrian bridge on North Harborview Drive to open up the creek that runs through the culvert underneath.
Utility relocation work will begin soon and is expected to last about six weeks.
CenturyLink, Comcast, Peninsula Light Co. and Puget Sound Energy will move their utilities in advance of the project. The work will involve removing lines from North Harborview Drive, where the city will construct the bridge over Donkey Creek, and repositioning them onto Austin Street and Harborview Drive.
Austin Street will be closed while the utilities install their new service lines. Look for flaggers and short-term traffic backups along Harborview Drive and North Harborview Drive.
In addition to the bridge, the project calls for a footpath under the bridge to run from the newly exposed Austin Estuary to Donkey Creek Park, rendering Austin Street and North Harborview Drive as one-way avenues.
The second phase will include turning Austin Street into a one-way road with the addition of street lights, pedestrian crossings, a curb, gutter and sidewalks, parking and bike lanes.
Relocation of the three-way stop at North Harborview and Harborview to Austin Street and Harborview is expected to improve traffic circulation and reduce congestion. Once Austin Street is reconstructed, all traffic will be detoured along Austin Street, and North Harborview will be closed so bridge construction can begin.
Donkey Creek currently flows through about 300 feet of 30-inch pipe from the upland park under Harborview Drive and out to Austin Estuary. The project calls for excavating about 200 linear feet to restore the estuary and provide daylight for the stream behind the museum to Austin Estuary.
In addition, a one-way bridge for cars and a 14-foot-wide pedestrian pathway will be built.
A trail will run along the restored estuary from Austin Estuary Park, behind the museum and under the new bridge and connect to Donkey Creek Park.
The bridge will provide a direct pedestrian connection under the bridge for access between Donkey Creek and Austin Estuary parks. Providing daylight to the creek and restoring the estuary will improve fish habitat, officials said.
With the cooperation of the Harbor History Museum, the city obtained an additional easement for a larger estuary restoration zone. The added easement permits reducing the length and height of retaining walls along the 300-foot channel.
The resulting reduced grades mean more natural slopes for revegetation and habitat restoration, officials said.
A viewing area and seating will be built off the trail connection from Austin Estuary behind the museum and under the new bridge.
The restored channel will appear much like the tidelands within the Austin Estuary that go dry with daily tides.
When complete, Harborview Drive will have streetlights, 14-foot-wide sidewalks, a curb, gutter, a two-way left-turn lane, planters, landscaping and a revised parking plan with striping.
Timing of the four phases of the project will be determined by contractors, said senior engineer Emily Appleton.