The in basket: J. B.
Holcomb of Bainbridge Island writes, “Something has to be done
about the heavy traffic on (Highway) 305 between the ferry
terminal on Bainbridge and Poulsbo.
“After a ferry arrives from Seattle,
especially between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., it is now the norm DAILY,
and year around, that it is bumper-to-bumper traffic all the
way to Poulsbo, only slightly relieved at the Suquamish/casino
“At intersections along the way and
without a traffic signal, it is not uncommon to wait between 10 and
25 minutes to obtain access onto 305. Last week, I spent 20
minutes between Day Road and the Suquamish traffic signal, a
distance of about three miles.
“We now have a large, indeed
huge, urban metropolitan area commuter/transportation problem,
when, not too many years ago around here, this was
non-existent. Where are the complaints about this? Why are
people complacent about this? Why should we tolerate
“Maybe a ban on truck traffic during
these times? How about a ban on one person in an
auto during these times (if legal)?
Subsidized home-office workers? Flex-time work hours for
persons employed in Seattle having a West Sound home?
The out basket: I had always ducked
experiencing this, not wanting to spend an hour in bumper to bumper
traffic. But twice in August, my wife and I motored up to the
island from my South Kitsap home, with the intent of following a
ferry load of traffic north.
Once was an ordinary Wednesday and a
ferry that arrived a little after 4. The second was a Seahawks game
day Friday, and a ferry that came in about 7:15. Each time I waited
until very near the end of the off-load before joining the
The first thing I noticed is the
traffic signal just downhill from Winslow Way, that allows
pedestrians to cross during ferry off-loads. It was a fairly long
light and I would think it would provide long breaks in traffic on
305 to allow side-street traffic chances to get onto the highway.
That, of course, would assume corresponding breaks in southbound
305 traffic, which may often be wishful thinking.
While I don’t doubt that it can be as
bad as J.B, describes, neither day did I experience it. It took me
26 minutes to reach Poulsbo on the Wednesday, with bumper to bumper
traffic from Hidden Cove Road to Suquamish Way. It took only 16
minutes on the Friday, with little bumper to bumper slowdown.
On the way south to the ferry terminal
about 5 p.m. that Friday, we did see oncoming bumper to bumper
northbound traffic for sizable distances, There was some
bumper to bumper southbound traffic, as well, probably due to the
I’m sure it’s somewhere between
irritating and infuriating to have to travel that gauntlet every
afternoon, but I think J.B. will just have to get used to it.
Everything I’ve read or heard over the
years tells me all really plausible relief, whether widening
Highway 305 and the Agate Pass Bridge or moving the ferry terminal
to Blakely Harbor and bridging to the Illahee area, are opposed by
I asked Claudia Bingham-Baker of the
state highway’s Olympic region is that’s what the state hears and
she declined to characterize it one way or the other.
She did say, “We agree with your
reader that traffic is heavy on SR 305, especially between the
hours of 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
“WSDOT, in partnership with the cities
of Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo, Kitsap Transit, Port Madison
Enterprises (Suquamish Tribe), Kitsap County and the Kitsap
Regional Coordinating Council, recently completed a study on how to
improve traffic flow through the SR 305/Suquamish
“The study determined that the best
long-term (20-year) solution for congestion relief at that
intersection was to build a roundabout. However, we have no funding
to build a roundabout and are currently looking for funding to
build an interim solution – a right-lane turn from westbound SR 305
to northbound Suquamish Way.
“Beyond the intersection, we have no
plans or funding to provide added capacity to SR 305.”
Barry Loveless, public works director
for Bainbridge Island, says the city councils of Bainbridge
and Poulsbo support a list of proposed improvements to 305, but the
list he sent me has few specifics, beyond undescribed work at the
intersections, and all have a six- to 10-year time line, even work
at Suquamish Way.
I’m sure there are individual efforts
to encourage tele-commuting and flex-time, but I think there would
be longer and louder howls of anger about restricting trucks and
one-occupant vehicles than there are about the daily backups.