North’s main thoroughfare may be fixed

There are just so many studies and surveys that can be done on transportation issues in a rural area before it’s time to put all that information to use.

That’s what the Kitsap County Public Works aims to do with the $150,000 it was recently awarded from the Puget Sound Regional Council. The money came from PSRC’s $2 million pot earmarked for studies on transportation issues in rural areas. The county also received $50,000 from the Suquamish Tribe to put toward the review.

While there have been plenty of studies on traffic and congestion on local roads during the past several years, this examination will focus on how to fix those problems using that collected data, said Kitsap County Public Works transportation planning manager Greg Cioc.

The intent of the survey is to identify projects and amenities that will lessen the impacts of traffic through Kingston, Indianola and Suquamish, as well as at the State Route 305 and Suquamish Way intersection.

The corridor starts at Agate Pass Bridge, turns right on to Suquamish Way, which turns into Augusta Avenue and then Miller Bay Road. Indianola Road, South and West Kingston roads and State Route 104 are also included within the corridor.

The results of the study are expected to include drawings of what Suquamish’s main street could look like, what sort of non-motorized pedestrian trail system is possible for Indianola and what sort of urban amenities could be implemented in Kingston. Based on discussions the Public Works staff has had with residents from all three communities the past several years for various studies, there is a collective emphasis on building more non-motorized trails and paths, safer walking routes to schools and creating a sense of community.

“The idea is to lessen the impact of these heavy hits on, essentially, the main town,” Cioc said.

While Public Works has done a fair amount of work in the Little City by the Sea, especially on West Kingston Road, this study will address primarily how to create a walkable community.

The study will identify short term to medium term fixes that would minimize ferry traffic impacts by allowing motorists to quickly exit Kingston without interfering with local access. The proposal also suggests using traffic signals that are integrated into the ferry schedule; minimizing access to local streets while improving access management for SR 104; and creating a walking corridor that starts in downtown and heads west toward the North Kitsap School District complex, eventually connecting to North Kitsap Heritage Park.

In the more secluded neighborhood of Indianola, residents have made it clear they want to remain a rural community, with minimal sidewalks and lighting. The neighborhood also deals with bus noise in the early morning, lack of adequate parking and speeding on the narrow roads. The study would review traffic calming measures that would not be intrusive on residents but would discourage disruptive behavior.

The community also supports having a walking path system for access to recreational facilities north of Indianola, including 80-acre Bloedel Land trust, Indianola Dock and proposed White Horse trail.

For Suquamish, which is the most impacted by Miller Bay Road as it feeds directly into its downtown region, the study would explore urban amenities that would minimize traffic there. Currently, children are often driven to Suquamish Elementary because the streets are unsafe for walking, creating congestion on Augusta Avenue. Kitsap Transit run between 30-50 buses on the same roads each day.

According to the proposal, residents have expressed interest in curbs and sidewalks, lighting at crossroads and for “the slab” to be developed into a community gathering place for celebrations.

The study will not start until next year, when the money becomes available in January and Cioc expects it to take about six months to complete. A consulting firm that specializes in urban design and landscape will be hired to work further with residents on what kinds of amenities they want in their area. Ideas include creating a landscaped gateway to the communities. The idea isn’t for more cars to come through the communities but for cars to slow down, Cioc explained.

“We want to see neat things come out of it that can be done, that can be accomplished,” he added. “The next round of applications, you can go after money to build some of these things.”

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