Old Town residents don’t want to be forgotten in Fjord fix

POULSBO — It will be another year before Fjord Drive in Poulsbo’s Old Town can be fixed, the city announced Wednesday.

The road has been closed to southbound traffic between Hostmark Street and Sixth Avenue for nine months, after heavy rains caused a landslide along a portion of its western edge in November 2009.

The arterial links to many Old Town homes and at least one business.

“We’re looking at almost another year of traffic diversion,” said city Public Works Director Barry Loveless.

Funding for the repair has been set aside in the 2011 city budget. The city won’t have a cost estimate for the project until a design is finished, Loveless said. It will then need to retain permitting to do the work, which will shore up the bank. The work is tentatively expected to occur next summer.

The city recently proposed reopening the road’s southbound lane for two blocks beginning at Hostmark to free up access to some homes and a business. The road closure sign that now sits at Hostmark and Fjord would be moved back to where Ryen Street meets Fjord. A “local access only” sign would be placed at Hostmark instead.

A city Public Works Committee passed the proposal in a 2-1 vote.

Several area residents who received notices about the possible change spoke to the city council against the proposal. They raised concerns that it would expose their neighborhood side streets to more through traffic than can safely fit.

Many said they chose to live in Old Town for its low traffic volume and quiet atmosphere. There are no sidewalks and pedestrians frequent the area, which includes Lions Park.

“The neighbors all around us in this vicinity totally disagree with [the proposal],” said Nelson Place resident Mike Wall.

Linda Berry-Maraist, the lone dissenting vote from the Public Works Committee, said she worried traffic would continue onto Fjord despite the “local access only” sign, leaving Ryen the final outlet. She measured Ryen at 18-feet wide, with several hedges and on-street parking.

“I don’t think we should put arterial traffic on a road like that,” she said.

Ross Lund, who lives near Ryen, reminded the council the area is home to many young families and older residents.

“Please consider that,” he said.

Several Old Town homeowners and council members recommended Fjord become a permanent one-way street, which could make room for a widened pedestrian promenade that would stretch from downtown toward Lemolo Shore Drive.

Councilman Dale Rudolph noted if Fjord were made a southbound one-way, a stop sign would be required on Hostmark where it meets Sixth Avenue.

That would affect a larger portion of drivers, but otherwise “you’re just going to stack cars up for blocks all day long” as drivers attempt to turn left from Sixth to Hostmark, he said.

The city council will make a decision after area residents have a chance to offer input and a traffic modeler can provide the city a simulation of the affects potential changes could have, said Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson. Previously only a small portion of the Old Town neighborhood was notified by the city of possible changes.

Erickson said she’ll call for heavier police enforcement in the meantime, “although more than several tickets and citations have occurred down there” already, as some southbound drivers have ignored the several road closure signs on Fjord.

It will be at least “several weeks” until the issue will be brought before council again, she said.

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