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SR 305 project raises flooding concerns

POULSBO — It’s been put on the back burner more times than a warm pan of refried beans but State Route 305 is still a very viable topping on Poulsbo’s virtual burrito smorgasbord of upcoming road projects.

Although delays have accompanied the highway improvement project for several years, officials from the city and the Department of Transportation haven’t given up on a widening plan which has basically had more gas than go. Progress is being made though and next week the public will get another helping of SR 305 during an environmental assessment hearing and open house. The event, scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 at the Poulsbo Fire Station, will allow citizens to take a closer look at the proposal, offer comments and have questions answered.

When funding is secured and the $14 million project to widen the highway from three to five lanes gets underway, local motorists can expect to see many changes along Poulsbo’s main thoroughfare.

Two High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), peak-hour lanes that will stretch from Bond Road south to Tollefson Street will be the most noticeable improvements, but turn lanes, sidewalks and new bicycle lanes will also be created during what is expected to be a two-year project.

But before the 2.2-mile proposal starts, members of the Poulsbo Public Works Committee feel that a few items need to be addressed by the DOT.

MORE WATER MAY MEAN MORE FLOODS

One of the primary concerns the city committee expressed this week has to do with higher stormwater flows that will be created at key sites along SR 305 when wider culverts are installed under the highway.

It’s a catch-22 because while the six new pipes will assist salmon on their way upstream, they will also increase runoff flows at sites that traditionally flooding problems.

“When it floods it won’t stop (at the Lincoln Road culvert). It’s going to go right through the public works’ office,” Councilman Dale Rudolph said, noting that the building on the corner of Lincoln Road and 8th Avenue experienced water problems earlier this year when torrential rains dumped on the Northwest. The wider culverts and increased runoff from nearby Wilderness Park would simply worsen the situation, he added.

“They act as a dam right now,” Public Works Supt. Bill Duffy said. He would know better than anyone as he and his staff had to watch the rising water seep into their office during the wet season. Duffy was also concerned about whether the new culverts would require the city to improve its downstream infrastructure.

“We need to talk to the DOT about flooding,” Rudolph advised. “If we can partner with DOT we can clean up the south fork of Dogfish Creek — this is a big deal.”

City Engineer John Stephenson said the Department of Transportation is required to “pass on” stormwater related with the SR 305 project but could work with Poulsbo to alleviate the situation.

AN INCREASE IN TRAFFIC NOISE

Another flood the city is worried about has to do with complaints from residents at Viking Heights.

Residents at the development, located on the east side of SR 305 at the project’s southern edge, will be subjected to increased noise from the highway when the road is widened in their direction. Trees that currently act as a sound buffer for traffic will be removed and as a result, city officials are concerned about the impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

“What’s their proposed mitigation for noise?” Rudolph asked. “I can imagine the Viking Heights people having a cow if they take those trees out without mitigation — we should get ready for a riot.”

Stephenson said there were a couple of options for the site, including using asphalt instead of concrete and building a 30-inch barrier along the road to reduce tire noise. Both solutions, however, have problems due to financial limitations.

“There are 7,000 miles of highway in the state and over 200 cities,” Stephenson explained. “We need to give (DOT) a reason to justify this.”

LIGHT RAIL? DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH

Should Poulsbo and the Department of Transportation put the SR 305 project on hold and review light rail options for the city? Not unless the public can wait until the year 4002, according to Rudolph.

The proposal, he said, is much too expensive for a town Poulsbo’s size to realistically consider at this time.

“Seattle doesn’t even have light rail. They can’t afford it so how are we supposed to?” Rudolph asked, noting that Poulsbo also lacked the density and right-of-way needed to make such a pricey plan feasible. “I’d say Kitsap County will get light rail in... about 2000 years.”

Rudolph said the current SR 305 proposal worked well because buses were a much better option for the city. They are more affordable and provide much greater flexibility, he explained.

This is exactly what the project would do, Stephenson said, adding that improvements to the transit system would include park and ride lots, bus pullouts and signal preference for transit vehicles at intersections.

“This is a bus project,” he said.

High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes won’t be limited to mass transit though and will ease congestion on the main highway throughout their 2.2-mile parameters, Councilman Jeff McGinty said.

“Having two more lanes will be a good thing for people heading to Hwy 3,” McGinty pointed out.

Rudolph agreed.

“Right now, you can sit back as far as Central Market when you’re trying to get to Hwy 3,” he explained.

Environmental assessment

hearing and open house for

State Route 305

Tuesday, March 5

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Poulsbo Fire Station

911 Liberty Road

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