Sorry, Purdy Bridge isn’t getting any wider. But it will get a new deck, as crews repave Highway 302

Commuters from the Key Peninsula will find construction flaggers a frequent sight for the next year and beyond.

State contractors will begin work at the end of August on a major construction project on State Route 302 between Purdy and Minter Creek — a project that will continue into fall of 2020.

The $14 million project will eventually include re-decking the Purdy Bridge, although the bridge work will not begin until next summer, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation said.

And sorry, drivers, the two-lane bridge won’t be getting any wider.

Beginning Monday, August 26, contractors will begin work to replace a fish-barrier culvert under the highway at Minter Creek. Eventually, they will replace two other smaller culverts as well.

The project will include repaving of nearly 8 miles of Route 302, from State Route 16 to a point just east of Elgin Clifton Road.

“We’ve taken a lot of small projects and bundled them together so they can all be done roughly at the same time,” said WSDOT project spokesperson Tina Werner. “The ultimate goal is to reduce driver fatigue on that section of highway.”

The first disruption drivers will encounter, she said, will be the construction of a two-lane bypass, called a “shoo-fly” in builder’s jargon, around the Minter Creek crossing. This will allow cars to pass while the culvert is replaced with a concrete girder bridge.

Washington is under a federal court injunction, the result of a lawsuit by Native American tribes, to replace highway culverts that restrict the passage of spawning of salmon.

Drivers should expect weekday lane and shoulder closures at the Minter Creek construction site into the fall and winter, Werner said.

The two smaller culverts, slightly east of the big one, will be replaced in the summer of 2020. They span Little Minter Creek in two places.

The work will open up nearly 25 miles of potential fish habitat, WSDOT said. Minter Creek provides spawning grounds for several species of salmon, including the endangered pink salmon.

Culverts were used widely in highway construction because they are less expensive than bridges. But they restrict the size of streams and make the water flow faster, making it harder for fish to swim upstream.

Sorry, no wider bridge

A major part of the project — re-decking the Purdy bridge — will not begin until next summer. It may disappoint some drivers, Werner acknowledged, because it does not include widening the narrow bridge.

“We know that’s something people want, but right now there is no funding,” she said. “People have asked for sidewalks, for steel railings instead of wood, and we’re aware of those things, but the funding available is specifically for roadway repair and nothing else.”

Built in 1937, the Purdy Bridge spans the Burley Lagoon between Purdy and Wauna. It is 550 feet long, but the roadway is only 20 feet wide. At the time it was built, it was the longest box-girder bridge in the U.S., with a central span of 190 feet. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Beginning in summer of 2020, crews will grind down old asphalt and replace it with a new surface. A start date has not been set, but the work will probably have to include at least three weekend closures, WSDOT said.

A long, roundabout detour will take drivers into Kitsap County and back. It will run from 94th Avenue Northwest to Sidney Road Northwest, Southeast Pine Road, Bethel-Burley Road Southeast and 66th Avenue Northwest.

Also slated for the summer of 2020 is remedial work on the Purdy side of Route 302 to update ramps and sidewalks to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That work will be done from the 302 Spur to the intersection of 94th Avenue Northwest. It will improve access for bicycles and pedestrians.

The general contractor for the project is Granite Construction Company of Watsonville, CA. Funding is $14,635,000, of which $1,760,000 is from state gas taxes.

Work is to begin in two weeks on repaving and repair of nearly 7 miles of state Highway 302 west of Purdy, according to the state Department of Transportation.

This project removes and replaces three, outdated fish barriers under SR 302 at Minter Creek with fish passable structures and repaves nearly 7 miles of highway along with ADA improvements and deck repairs for the Purdy Spit Bridge. Drivers will notice construction beginning Monday, Aug. 26 and should expect daytime lane and shoulder closures.