Bridging the gap

If you have to ship packages off the North Olympic Peninsula, the upcoming six-week closure of the Hood Canal bridge shouldn't be a problem, according to delivery services.

Goods such as groceries and gasoline should continue to arrive during the closure period and transportation services are providing extra service to get people back and forth.

"It should be just fine. We haven't heard of any delays and we use FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service," said Sally Heun, business partner at Sequim Wrap Parcel and Post, 609 W. Washington St. No. 11.

Jess O'Dell, manager at The UPS Store at 1400 W. Washington St., said if someone uses next-day air service, the package is picked up at 4 p.m., taken to William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles and flown to Boeing Field in Seattle.

All UPS services will continue to be guaranteed, she said.

Belinda Dove, co-owner of Mail Boxes Too at 325 E. Washington St., said the shippers probably will have to change some procedures but it shouldn't be anything that customers will notice.

"I haven't heard that the shippers will have any problems, but it's not going to be a fun time for them. All the delivery guarantees will be in effect," she said.

United Parcel Service spokesman Sally Davenport said the company will use contingency plans developed during previous Hood Canal bridge closures.

Those plans primarily involve driving around on U.S. Highway 101 and they don't expect significant delays, she said.

"They've encountered this situation before, so there's no expected impact to service," Davenport said.

No food shortage

When it comes to getting food and groceries, plans are being developed to prevent any shortages or delays.

"We have a group of folks working on our action plan," said QFC spokesman Tammy Bottcher.

The company's plan includes going around Hood Canal on Highway 101, using the nighttime freight ferry, coordinating with warehouses and working with vendors that provide direct-to-store deliveries, she said.

"It's just a matter of revising our schedules for timely deliveries," she said.

Peninsula Truck Lines president Stan Vander Pol said his company will make more use of its terminal and personnel in Bremerton during the closure.

"We currently serve the North Olympic Peninsula out of Bremerton. So it makes more sense to use the resources we already have in Bremerton. We'll start on day one and adjust as needed," he said.

Dungeness Line, operated by Port Angeles-based Olympic Bus Lines, serves Port Angeles, Sequim, Discovery Bay and Port Townsend with stops at the Seattle Greyhound bus depot, Seattle hospitals and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Company president Jack Heckman said the company plans to use the Port Townsend-Keystone ferry and the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry from South Whidbey Island to Interstate 5 rather than the Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

Free medical transit

Dungeness Line also will provide free reservation-based medical transportation from Sequim and Port Angeles to Seattle hospitals.

"We've been chosen for the medical trips, from here to anywhere on 'Pill Hill' (First Hill in Seattle, the location of numerous hospitals). They can stay on the bus literally from here to their end destination. It's going to be smooth," he said.

Rocket Transportation provides door-to-door shuttle service between the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The company plans to run shuttles along Highway 101 south to Hoodsport, then east on Highway 106 and north on Highway 3 to Gorst. They will turn onto Highway 16 and continue to Tacoma, Sea-Tac and downtown Seattle.

Washington State Patrol will provide traffic control at the intersections at Highway 119 (the road to Lake Cushman) and Highway 101. A remote-controlled camera will control the stoplight at Highway 3 and Highway 16 in Gorst.

Car ferries also are available on the Port Townsend-Keystone (by reservation) and Clinton-Mukliteo routes, plus the Bremerton-Seattle, Bainbridge Island-Seattle and Kingston-Edmonds routes.

If you want to leave your car at home, Clallam Transit plans to provide daily express transit service from the Port Angeles/Sequim area to the South Point water shuttle dock.

Jefferson Transit also plans direct service between the South Point water shuttle dock and the Port Townsend/Port Hadlock/Port Ludlow area.

If you want to leave a car on each side, secure, lighted park-and-ride lots with 1,500 spaces will be available at the Fred Hill Materials Shine Pit off Highway 104 in Jefferson County and at Port Gamble in Kitsap County.

Both water shuttle docks will be limited to transit; passengers won't be able to be dropped off at either site. An express bus will operate between the park-and-ride lots at the Shine Pit and Port Gamble and water shuttle docks at South Point and Lofall.

Once you reach the water, Victoria Express will provide a free ride from the docks at Lofall and South Point every half hour between 4 a.m.-

11 p.m. The 149-passenger vessels will be able to transport more than 11,000 people daily.

Seattle-based Starline Transportation will provide buses between the water shuttle dock at Lofall to Port Gamble, Kingston, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and Silverdale and nonemergency medical transportation services to Kitsap County hospitals.

If you just don't want to spend that much time on the road, Kenmore Air Express is an option.

"We have four flights a day now and beginning May 1 that will expand to eight flights a day, beginning at 5:30 a.m. and every two hours until 7:30 p.m.," said Jason Lee, Kenmore Air operations manager.

"We have four planes we possibly could use for the Port Angeles route, sharing with the Friday Harbor run. People definitely are planning ahead which helps us. If we know the demand in advance, we can plan for it.

"We also are ramping up our shuttle van service because most of our customers are headed to Sea-Tac. More than half of our passengers live in Sequim," he said.

The company also is providing seaplane service to Port Ludlow and Port Hadlock, although not to Port Townsend - which isn't to say that wouldn't be done in the future, Lee said.

Motorists crossing the Hood Canal bridge can expect pilot car-controlled, one-way, alternating traffic and delays of up to 10 minutes from

9 p.m.-6 a.m. through Friday, April 10.

Crews are nearing the final stage of this $471 million project that replaces the east half and retrofits the west half of the Highway 104 Hood Canal bridge.

The Hood Canal bridge retrofit and replacement project is now 90-percent complete.

Closure of the 1.5-mile span that connects Jefferson and Kitsap counties between May 1 and approximately June 12 is necessary so the transition spans and roadway-topped pontoons for the east half of the 47-year-old span can be replaced.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This article begins a series of four reports on problems - and solutions for them - posed by the closure of the Hood Canal bridge on May 1 for an estimated six weeks. Still to come:

_ April 15: Tourism, travelers and entertainers.

_ April 22: Health care and medical needs.

_ April 29: Businesses brace for the closure.

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