Miller Bay Road: Shouldering the traffic burden

KINGSTON — The discussion of an off-road multi-use trail connecting Kingston to Indianola via Miller Bay Road is no longer.

The discussion now focuses on expanding the shoulders along the Miller Bay Road cooridor.

A Feb. 3 public meeting brought about the Miller Bay change.

"It was very clear by the people there: No off-road trail alongside the Miller Bay Road corridor. We're interested in widening the shoulders," recalled Tina Nelson, the senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works.

The primary objections to an off-road trail along Miller Bay stem from environmental concerns, as there's a large wetland area along the road and a stream bed, which in addition to environment impacts increase costs of trail building. Also, residents who live along Miller Bay would have a portion of their private property taken for the trail.

The shoulders are a good compromise.

"Most of the people in the room were really happy with that decision," said Carolina Veenstra, a member of the Kingston Parks, Trails and Open Space Committee.

A duplicate trail effort on the White Horse development also shifted the attitude toward shoulder expansion.

Veenstra said the White Horse trail is about 70 to 80 percent complete but runs parallel to and is within a reasonable distance of the Miller Bay route.

The White Horse trail runs along the golf course and ends at Heritage Park, but the trail could continue via logging roads in the area. A Heritage Park stewardship community is forming to work on connecting the White Horse trail with the logging roads through Heritage Park. The park isn't open to the public, but the stewardship committee hopes to make the park available for passive uses: trails, Veenstra said.

"The idea is the White Horse trail and logging roads in Heritage Park could eventually become trunk trails to connect the communities of Indianola, Kingston and Hansville and basically that is the same thing Miller Bay Road is trying to serve," Veenstra said.

There are options for off-road trails connecting the North End communities that don't need to use Miller Bay Road. However, Miller Bay Road still needs some attention, Nelso said. It is a popular road cycling route for commuters or weekend warriors.

Traveling to and from the peninsula won’t be easy, but we hope people will be patient and are reassured by the fact that in about six weeks they’ll have a wider, safer, more reliable bridge. "Right now if you want to ride a bike or horse or even walk there's no safe place to do that. The citizens said they'd rather have wider shoulders," Nelson said.

Nelson said the county is in a little bit of limbo as to where to go next with Miller Bay, as the county received grant funding for an off-road trail. As a result, she said, the county may not be able to use grant funds for the shoulders, but county staff is talking with the granting organizations to see if the funding can be spent in a slightly different way.

"The next step is to see which grants are still good," Nelson said.

The Miller Bay trail or shoulder expansion is a primary component of the Mosquito Fleet Trail Master Plan, which when completed will connect all the communities of Kitsap County, from Southworth to Hansville, via a network of trails.

The project won't be completed for several years.

The Heritage Park Stewardship Committee is in need of volunteers. If interested in volunteering for the committee contact Lori Ramaker at the Parks and Recreation Department at (360) 337-5372.

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