What will become of Washington Avenue?

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It’s decision time for Washington Avenue. Following a road test, comment period and a public meeting last Thursday, the Bremerton City Council will now decide how to spend the $1.7 million it has from the state for bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the thoroughfare.

Here are the Council’s four options:

1. The original option: City engineers envisioned a simple road “diet” for the stretch of Washington between Sixth Street and the Manette Bridge, in which a four lane road would become a two lane one. That will make room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the road, as well as additional lighting, but it would cut vehicular capacity in half.

Option 2.
Option 2.

2. The modified option: Following the road test, in which angry commuters gave public works crews an earful about traffic backups, public works crews came up with a modified proposal. Under this option, the waterside (or east side) of the road’s dated concrete median would still be reduced to one lane to make room for the pedestrian and bicycle improvements. But the upper (or west side) portion of the median would become a two way street, with minimal bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements being installed on that side (a combined bike-pedestrian lane would be added).

3. The one-way option: Also dreamed up after the road test, the option sees the road cut down from four lanes to two, but all lanes would be one-way northbound, with southbound drivers having to go to Pacific Avenue to get downtown.

4. The do nothing option: The city could just give the money back and forgo the improvements altogether.

At Thursday’s public meeting, attended by more than 40 people, option 1 was the clear favorite after a preference vote was held. You can see the tabulated results via the collection of post-it notes in the photo below. Twenty-eight people said option 1 was their first choice, seven said it was their second choice and six said it was their third choice. Option 2 drew just one first-place vote, 16 second-place votes and three third place votes. Option 3 had only three first-place votes, two second-place votes and 11 third-place votes.

Strong support for option 1 came as a surprise to Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin. It was Martin, after all, who stood by the road when the city tested the option 1 concept in April. Motorists were none too pleased by the backups created between 4-4:30 p.m., the town’s rush hour. Roughly three-fourths of respondents to an unscientific Kitsap Sun online poll said eliminating a lane in each direction on the road was a bad idea.

Feedback at the public meeting was varied, but many bicyclists came out in support of the improvements. Martin also reached out to Rick Tift, executive director of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, for his thoughts, as Tift could not make the meeting. Tift prefers Option 2, Martin says.

The Council decision won’t come without a chance to comment one more time. The decision will likely be made at the Council’s July 2 meeting at the Norm Dicks Government Center, where you can have your say one more time. Meeting’s at 5:30 p.m.

Below, you’ll also find Martin’s memo to the City Council.

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Washington Avenue memo

3 thoughts on “What will become of Washington Avenue?

  1. Was the meeting during “regular business hours” where all the people who work at the shipyard or commute (either way!) to work were actually working? So then would it be a surprise that the pedestrian/bike option is more popular? I also didn’t see any mention of a Thursday city council meeting on the bremerton web site:

    http://www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/display.php?id=580

    Was it a stealth meeting, where only people who liked option #1 were invited?

  2. While the Council Meeting page did not specifically note this meeting, this was likely not an official council meeting that would have been on the calendar. However, with a quick search for “Washington Ave”, and then by clicking on “Construction Updates”, I found this; http://www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/display.php?id=1211. So the information was available on the website; Just not the Council Meeting page. I would wager it was also published elsewhere, but I can’t say 100% for certain.

    Anyone that was wanting to know how/when to be able to make their opinions known to the city on this after the SUn ran the original article could have called (the number is at the bottom of the same page you listed) and inquired or even let their opinions be known if they couldn’t attend the meeting over the phone. Also, you could additionally e-mail your thoughts in. Any time I have contacted someone at City Hall, I have usually gotten a fairly prompt response.

  3. Bremerton is hemorrhaging departing businesses and or business owners looking to get out. Another one closed just this past week which was the Grainger location at 11th and Callow.

    http://pressroom.grainger.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=194987&p=irol-overview

    A check of Craiglist for “businesses for sale” postings in Bremerton just in the past 30 days uncovers these:

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bfd/4488750535.html

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bfs/4520537443.html

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bfs/4521687350.html

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bfs/4496386820.html

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/bfs/4521978449.html

    Narrowing yet another of the multi-lane commercial traffic transportation options down to just one lane each direction is not going to help or improve the desirability for major commercial retail investors. Sure bike riders and pedestrians will have easy walks and rides through what is quickly becoming a residential living space with fewer and fewer businesses and services.

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