The in basket: When I gently questioned the wisdom of turning
Bremerton’s Washington Avenue into a two-lane street between Sixth
Street and the Manette Bridge in a recent column, the city public
works department decided it would pay to try to convince me of the
value of the project, set for 2015.
So Public Works Director Chal Martin, Managing Street Engineer
Gunnar Fridriksson and Administrative Division Manager Milenka
Hawkins-Bates of their office took me on a tour of city work sites,
ending at Sixth and Washington.
The out basket: Chal evidently had been getting some questions
about the capacity of Washington to handle rush hour traffic with
only one lane in each direction, though that wasn’t what I had
questioned. He spent a lot of time demonstrating how little the
second lane northbound is needed even with a ferry arrival and
shipyard closing time only minutes apart.
And it certainly looked that day that almost all northbound
traffic on Washington in the afternoon uses the outside lane to
reach the bridge. Only briefly did traffic back up in the inside
Those are the people who will be impeded by having to wait while
the signal at the bridge is red and would-be bridge users are in
their way. But I’m sure those people will quickly learn that
turning left onto Sixth Street, which will keep its left-turn lane,
will shorten any delays.
What impressed me far more on our tour was the case Chal made
for wider sidewalks, which will be created in the Washington
Our tour began at the northwest corner of 11th Street and Naval
Avenue, where we stood as traffic zoomed past. The speed limit is
only 30 there, but that close to it, it seems to be zooming.
I’d never walked it, so in my many trips along 11th in my car
never noticed how frighteningly slender the sidewalks are
Chal said, “I think about all the people I see who walk here. I
see women pushing double baby buggies walking here. I see moms and
little kids and people in motorized wheelchairs.
“When you’re in your car,” he continued, “you’re surrounded by
modern safety conveniences, you have a radio and a heater. You’re
not exposed to the elements. So I ask, is it OK to delay someone
two or three minutes in their normal commute in a trade-off to get
more safety for pedestrians and bicyclists?
“My answer,” said Chal, “is a resounding yes.”
The Road Warrior’s argument has been that the focus on providing
for the relatively few bikes and walkers by further frustrating the
vastly larger number of drivers is ill-conceived. You might agree
with that, as I might still, but we should test that belief by
walking from Naval to Callow on the north side of 11th
And, as Milenka added, “If the sidewalk is safer, would you have
more people using it?”
As for 11th, it can’t be widened, so making it safer for
non-motorists would require reducing it to two or three lanes, as
they are doing with Pacific Avenue north of Sixth Street right now.
Don’t be shocked if that’s not proposed in some future year.