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6th Ave. project designed to reduce polluted runoff
POULSBO — While the main purpose of the proposed improvements to 6th Avenue is stormwater treatment, most of the residents at the public hearing Feb. 29 were concerned with traffic mitigation.
One resident referred to his street as the “6th Avenue speedway,” voicing the concern many have that vehicles ignore the 25-mph speed limit. Assistant Public Works Director Andrzej Kasiniak said one of the presented alternatives includes elevated crosswalks that will work as “modified speed tables.” Speed tables are a gentler approach to speed bumps, but yield the same purpose: forcing vehicles to travel at the speed limit over the mount to avoid damaging the vehicle.
The city presented its plans of 6th Avenue and the Hostmark, Lincoln and Fjord intersection improvements to more than 70 residents. Poulsbo received a $276,000 grant from the Department of Ecology for polluted runoff handling. The city will use $60,000 of its reserves for the project, for a budgeted total of $336,000.
Sixth Avenue intersects with Poulsbo Creek, which was identified as one of the worst creeks by Ecology and Kitsap Public Health studies for contributing bacteria into Liberty Bay. Mayor Becky Erickson said the city must implement stormwater treatment now to prevent future harm to the bay and penalties from Ecology.
“This is a great opportunity to provide treatment for a fairly large area,” said Phil Struck, city consultant with Parametrix engineering firm.
Struck presented four alternatives for 6th Avenue, but asked the public to look at the two that will be the easiest and cost-effective to implement. One will add “curb extensions” where 6th intersects with Fjord, Harrison, Matson, Ryen and Sommerseth, and a raingarden at Fjord. The second will add the curb extensions at the same intersections plus raised crosswalks at some of the intersections.
A curb extension is a form of a stormwater treatment unit which will allow for landscaping at each corner of an intersection and provide traffic direction for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The curbs at Noll Road and Hostmark Street are an example.
Rain gardens are built with a biofiltration system, which absorbs runoff, filters out the pollutants, and prevents flooding.
Struck said what they need to hear from the public is how many want the raised crosswalks and at how many intersections. The Ecology grant is funding the majority of the project, but won’t cover the cost of raised crosswalks. Kasiniak said each will cost the city $20,000 over the budget.
“The reason why we’re having this meeting is we want your opinions,” Erickson said. “We’re just in the beginning plans.”
The five-way intersection will also have a rain garden and a new sidewalk, both of which will be designed to give clues to the driver where pedestrians will be in such a large intersection. There will be no lane width reduction.
Construction is expected to start in July and finish in September, and will not include any street or driveway closures and no nighttime work. The city will present the final design in May.
Ecology announced last week it is giving additional funding to Washington counties and cities to bolster local stormwater programs. Poulsbo will receive $50,000; the county received $138,000 to update a handbook for Western Washington homeowners about rain gardens, and $114,000 to create a regional pollution reporting hotline.