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Grant applications renew hopes to get SR 305 rolling

POULSBO — After stalling out, not once but twice, plans to help congestion on State Route 305 may soon be on the road again.

And city staff are feeling pretty optimistic that this time, the funding will be there.

Previously, the project to widen and improve intersections along SR 305 from Bond to Hostmark, was partially funded by state gas tax money, which was siphoned off by Initiative 695. The project was next “funded” by the transportation-oriented Referendum 51, which failed with voters in November 2002.

But while the City of Poulsbo lacks the estimated $14-$15 million needed to construct the project, it does have some money already in the bank. Poulsbo has about $2.2 million from the State Department of Transportation, $2.9 in federal grant dollars and $3.3 million in Olhava mitigation funds — a total of about $8.4 million. The new idea is to take the pot of money already available and leverage it to gain the balance through grant funding.

“We have a lot of partners,” commented Poulsbo Project Engineer Andrzej Kasiniak. “It’s at least worth a try.”

“Andrzej should be commended for the work he’s done on this,” Interim Public Works Director John Stephenson told council last week.

And the idea to go out for new grant funding got its first victory this week as it was put on a list of six recommended transportation projects by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council Transportation Technology Committee Thursday. This is the initial step in the road toward a $3 million grant Poulsbo hopes to receive from a total transportation grant funding pot of about $50 million held by the KRCC.

The next step will be for the project to be reviewed by the KRCC Transportation Policy Committee, which will recommend five of the six current projects to the KRCC policy council for funding. That decision will take place on March 25.

“And if we get there, funding is almost guaranteed,” Kasiniak explained.

The one requirement for Poulsbo’s highway to qualify of the KRCC funding is that staff must show the route connects “regional centers” such as Seattle, Bremerton and Silverdale.

Kasiniak said recent research has shown him that about 46 percent of the Winslow ferry traffic, or an estimated 3,000-4,000 people a day, stays on SR 305 past Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo. He said preliminary traffic flow analysis by Dan Evans Associates is pointing to much of this traffic continuing on to both of Kitsap County’s regional centers.

“Personally, I believe you can’t find a more important highway than our 305,” Kasiniak said. “I’d say the others of importance are (highways) 16 and 3.”

The balance of the $3-$3.5 million needed to complete the entire SR 305 plan could come from the Transportation Improvement Board. Kasiniak said that Poulsbo officials met with TIB representatives last year and were encouraged to apply for the funding.

That money requires intersection improvements be made, which is perfect for Poulsbo’s plans. The crux of the SR 305 problem is constriction at the Lincoln, Hostmark and Forest Rock Hills intersections.

“But this one depends on how much funding is available,” Kasiniak cautioned.

Related projects that the city is also planning for include:

•Creating additional turn lanes from SR 305 onto SR 307 (to Kingston) and widening SR 307 to receive those turn lanes. Expected to be fully-funded by $3 million in Olhava mitigation.

•Connecting 7th Avenue through Poulsbo Village with SR 305. Total cost estimated at $600,000, for which the City of Poulsbo has applied for $400,000 in grant funding.

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