Reader cries ‘Waste!’ in Lake Flora project


The in basket: Debra Buchholz of Port Orchard says, “I recently went on the county Web site to see what the road project is on Lake Flora Road. I see that they are planning on widening the lanes and shoulder…  

“I can see that this was probably planned when the (NASCAR) race track was in the laying,” she said. “I travel Lake Flora daily and am not sure why the county is wasting their money there. It is not used nearly enough to warrant spending money the county can surely use elsewhere.  

“In reading this project info, I found an even more concerning project for Lake Flora for 2010-11,” she continued. “They are putting a roundabout at the intersection of JM Dickenson and Lake Flora (roads). Why is a roundabout needed there?  

“Seriously does the county have that much money to waste?  Is this something that is truly needed with the economy the way it is? I wonder what the rest of Kitsap County would think if they knew how little this area really needs this?”

The out basket: Jon Brand, the county’s assistant public works director, replied directly to Debby and CCd to me:

“This project has a long history,” he said. “In 2002, Kitsap County obtained a $500,000 Rural Arterial Preservation (RAP) grant for (it).” The RAP funds come from the state’s portion of the fuel tax and  address traffic safety and preservation of rural arterial roads, he said. 

“Lake Flora Road was eligible because of the accident history and the condition of the asphalt. The project addresses safety by correcting segments of road where the alignment is sub-standard and providing paved shoulders to reduce the number of run-off-the-road accidents. Paved shoulders will reduce the number of accidents because errant vehicles will have more time to respond.”

I suggested to Jon that a gravel shoulder is more likely than a paved shoulder to alert a driver that he is leaving the roadway, and he said perhaps, if there was any certainty of a smooth transition from the asphalt to the gravel.

But “a drop off frequently forms at the asphalt edge which causes errant vehicles to lose control,” Jon said. “I agree that the gravel offers more of a warning but it’s likely to be a warning of impending disaster. Vehicles leaving the traveled way are less likely to crash if the shoulder is asphalt.   

“The down side is that paved shoulders often add to a driver’s comfort level and result in faster driving speeds,” he added.

Back to his reply to Debra, he wrote, “Lake Flora Road’s asphalt is in such poor condition that it’s not feasible to extend the pavement life by repairing and overlaying it. This was recognized by the state when the RAP grant was awarded.  

“This project was delayed for about 18 months during the NASCAR discussion,” Jon said.  “During the delay, (we) attempted to preserve the road by applying a slurry seal. 

“Had the track project moved forward, the traffic impacts would have been significant and the current project would have looked much different.  There’s no connection between the county’s current project and NASCAR.  

“Improvements to the intersection at JM Dickenson were not included in the original RAP project,” he said. “This intersection has been the site of several major accidents and a wide range of solutions have been discussed.  Our traffic engineers consider this as a good candidate for a rural roundabout.” But that decision hasn’t been made yet. 

“This project is not an example of government waste,” Jon concluded. “The county’s focus is on improving the safety and preserving the transportation infrastructure and we attempt to provide those improvements in a cost effective manner.”

It will cost a lot more than the $500,000 from RAP, though, but not as much as forecast in the county’s six-year road plan.

It predicted a $4.36 million price tag. The first phase, which began July 6, is a $1.04 million contract with RV Associates, and Jon says current estimates for the second phase say $845,000. Both are less than half what’s in the road plan, though engineering and right of way will add to the cost.

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