SR3 bypass gets passed by in vote

POULSBO — A controversial State Route 3 bypass route that had Big Valley Road area residents seeing red appears to be off the table.

Instead, a plan for a four-lane SR 3 with emphasis on local access has gotten the green light.

The stakeholders’ steering committee in the Route Development Plan (RDP) for SR 3 between Poulsbo and the Hood Canal Bridge voted Aug. 19 to recommend one of three alternatives for the future look of the area forward for consideration. One of the more than a dozen steering committee members present Thursday night was in opposition to the recommendation.

The vote appears to close a fierce debate over the potential to build a bypass route to alleviate future traffic problems on SR 3. The RDP is meant to address traffic fixes for the 7-mile stretch out to 2030 and several community members had suggested that a second road might actually do more good than fixing the current one.

While the idea raised some eyebrows at the Washington State Department of Transportation, which is drafting the RDP, it also raised the ire of Big Valley and Sawdust Hill Roads residents. More than 100 people attended two community meetings to talk about concerns from impacts to wetlands and other fragile areas to loss

of homes and wildlife habitat.

Neighbors had been hopeful that their pleas would win out, and the steering committee’s recommendation puts the bypass one step closer to being off the books for good.

“I’m happy,” commented Big Valley resident Ray Serebrin, who was asked to represent his neighbors on the steering committee. “It feels like good science and a thoughtful look at cost considerations has won out.”

Through the work of the steeringcommittee and comments at two public hearings, WSDOT staff had done preliminary drafting and analysis of three alternatives:

• Mobility alternative — level of service “C” by 2030, 120 acres of scenic areas impacted, 7 acres of wetlands affected, 70 buildings displaced, 240 acres of right-of-way needed, travel time during peak hours 10.6 minutes and cost $110 million

• Balanced alternative — level of service “C” by 2030, 50 acres of scenic areas impacted, 3 acres of wetlands affected, 50 buildings displaced, 130 acres of right-of-way needed, travel time during peak hours 11 minutes and cost $68 million

• Access alternative (recommended by steering committee) — level of service “C” by 2030, 20 acres of scenic areas impacted, less than 1 acre of wetlands affected, 40 buildings displaced, 80 acres of right-of-way needed, travel time during peak hours 12.7 minutes and cost $36 million

WSDOT project coordinator Vicki Steigner explained that the same level of analysis was not possible with the proposed bypass. However, staff were able to infer that in all cases, the bypass’ impact would be comparable to or worse than the mobility alternative. In terms of cost, it would likely be as expensive or more expensive than the $110 estimated for the mobility idea as well.

“The bypass doesn’t score as well as any of these alternatives,” Steigner told the committee Thursday. “It doesn’t seem like a rational solution at this time.”

The next step in the RDP drafting process will be for the steering committee’s recommendation to be presented to the community at the next public meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at Breidablik Hall. The final recommendations from the community and steering committee will be sent to the WSDOT regional director for adoption.

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