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Speeders tend to be friends, neighbors

HANSVILLE — Hansville really isn’t a place where people drive through to get from one town to the next — it’s a place where people live and go to and fro. So residents can’t blame drivers from outside the community who speed through Hansville, which was the consensus Tuesday night at a public meeting regarding traffic safety in the area.

“We’re part of the problem — not many people race through Hansville to go someplace else,” said meeting moderator Tom Ritley.

To address such issues, Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen and representatives from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and Kitsap County Public Works department met with Hansville residents about traffic issues in the area.

The purpose of the meeting was to see what county officials can do to support the community in making it safer, as well as create a residential traffic advisory committee.

KCSO Sheriff Steve Boyer addressed the issue of the KCSO traffic safety program, which has three components — engineering, education, and enforcement.

“We have to have all three to make it effective,” he said. “We’ve been working hard to make it work.”

While the KCSO has a small traffic division that is stretched thin, he said, the county approved last year for two more traffic officers to be hired to do traffic enforcement in the county. Asking existing officers to do traffic enforcement in their respective areas just isn’t enough, Boyer said.

He’s also asking residents to be educated as well as educate their families and friends about traffic safety.

“Hansville, in reality, in this county, is one of the safest places to live,” Boyer said.

Sgt. Mike Merrill, head of the KCSO traffic division, sees every single complaint that comes through the sheriff’s office regarding traffic, he said, and nearly three years ago, there was only one person doing traffic enforcement for the county. While the office is now authorized to have three traffic safety officers, in the time it takes to hire and train the other two, it will be another year.

There is good news though, Merrill said — traffic enforcement is up 10-fold and serious collision counts have been reduced.

However, they can’t have enforcement out on the road all the time, and traffic slowing measures can be expensive. Even if both of those components were out in full force, there are still going to be some problems, he said.

“You have a good start on it right now,” Merrill said of the evening’s meeting and energy to get something done. “This is the first time in a long time we’ve had this much concern.”

Public works manager Jon Brand said the county has a list of about six road improvement projects set for Hansville Road and adjacent roads through 2010.

Ideas such as speed tables (like glorified speed bumps) and rumble strips were suggested by residents as some measures, while others were against straight roadways being repaved, like Hood Canal Drive was last year, as it’s practically an invitation for people to use the road as a speedway.

About a dozen residents met following the meeting to discuss forming the traffic advisory committee. For more information, call Dody Solaas at (360) 638-2444.

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