The in basket: Rance McEntyre and Richard Hood probably speak for thousands of South Kitsapers when they ask whether anything will be done soon to making Bethel Road south of Lund Avenue an easier place to drive.
Rance said last August, “I have heard over the years that the Bethel Corridor would receive an upgraded and/or be paved with turn lanes and beautify the area.
“Bethel Road is one of the worst roads most of us travel and is a major thoroughfare;. The road is full of cracks, dips, manhole plates and holes and literally shakes your car around while traveling. I am glad I don’t ride a motorcycle on this road!
“There are no turn lanes with drivers slamming on brakes and swerving onto the shoulders, causing near accidents near and around Salmonberry and Bethel Square. I ask this of our county government, when will we get a new and improved roadway?”
Richard said he was rear-ended on Bethel at Salmonberry in July, after barely stopping in time to avoid the car in front of him. There were no injuries and little damage, but he said, “I do not know the accident statistics on that stretch of Bethel, but I do wonder if there are any plans to add center lanes for turning traffic in the foreseeable future?
“The road has always seemed dangerous to me for drivers going in and out of traffic, and today made me scratch my head about it a little bit more,” he said.
The out basket: It’s no longer a Kitsap County project, as the road and its surroundings have been annexed into Port Orchard.
The city’s Public Works Director Mark Dorsey tells me the long-awaited improvements to Bethel are not imminent. The best he hopes for is about $200,000 worth of grinding out the worst pavement and replacing it, perhaps next year, “to at least address the poor road surface condition.”
“The Bethel plan has been designed and reviewed over 15 years, most recently in 2006,” he said. “We’ve inherited a very large problem to deal with, and first we must redesign the plan to break it into phases we can get funding for. And we must acquire the right of way, because the county didn’t.”
He wants to compare the costs and aesthetics of using roundabouts, which would look nicer, he said.
He sees no little federal money available to help. “Future federal funding is much more restrictive and/or risky,” he said. “Under MAP 21 rules, the city may not be able to accept (federal) grant funding for the redesign, environmental review or right-of-way acquisition.
“With luck, possibly the redesign (doubt it) in 2014, as well,” Mark said.
MAP-21 is shorthand for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, a $105 billion “surface transportation” program signed into law by President Obama last July.
In the meantime, Mark is trying to find the money to proceed with two roundabouts on Tremont Street at Pottery Avenue and South Kitsap Boulevard, a project the city has had on the drawing boards almost as long as the county had the Bethel Corridor before surrendering it to the city.