Category Archives: Roads and Infrastructure

More License Plate Pride

A few folks, two of whom are named Cheryl, responded to my story which ran Saturday about special license plates. Here are their comments and answers to a few questions:

Hi Chris,

I got my plate when they came out about 3 years ago, I got number NP00575.
I looked thru all of them and found the one that I liked the best and it matched the truck I had then, lucky for me it matches the car I have now! But most important it supports our National Parks.
I do not mind the extra $$, it is worth it. I have a pretty common car and adding the plate has made it more noticeable and yes people do comment on it. I hike alot and so we see a lot of cars at the trailheads with National Park, State Park, and bike plates. I’m not sure how often the State changes our plates, but I remember when it was 10 years and longer, then the State got the newer ones with Mt Rainier and since then I swear they change it every 3 years? You should find that out! But I got really fed up with changing the plates and then trying to remember the new plate numbers! I think for an extra $$ you can keep your old plates EXCEPT if they are not the newer reflective ones. You should find that out too! I am from Gig Harbor.
Good luck with the story.

Cheryl, Gig Harbor
Cheryl –
According to a History of Vehicle Licensing (see below) posted on the Washington State Dept. of Licensing’s Web site, license plates representing Washington’s centennial were issued in 1987. These plates had a blue color scheme on a white background with “Washington” and “Centennial Celebration” in red. A rendition of Mount Rainier is in the background.

In 1990, Legislature passed a bill giving DOL the “sole discretion” to determine whether or not to create, design, or issue a special plate. The line “Centennial Celebration” was dropped from the license plate; otherwise, the license plates remained the same. I took a look outside the Kitsap Sun, and all the cars within view (none of which had specialty plates) had Mt. Rainier on them.

Also from the DOL Web site: You must replace your license plates every 7 years when you renew your vehicle tabs, because the reflective coating on the plates only has a 5-year guarantee. This coating helps law enforcement officers easily identify vehicles in poor weather conditions. Proper care of plates won’t prevent this coating from breaking down over time. … You may ask to keep your current license plate number on your replacement plates when you renew your tabs. Because this requires us to custom manufacture the license plate, there is an additional $20 fee to keep your current plate number.

Chris Henry, reporter


Hello Chris!

Our vehicles have the LEM plates because I am a surviving child of a police officer killed in the line of duty. My father was killed in Arizona, but I have lived in Washington since 1991, and I am very involved in local non-profits that provide support and service to police survivors, including both the state chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) and the Behind the Badge Foundation. As you likely are aware, Behind the Badge Foundation is a merger organization of the Washington State Law Enforcement
Memorial Foundation (which is the benefactor of LEM license plate proceeds) and the 10-99 Foundation.
I do think of my plates often, especially when I see other LEM plates. I am very proud to support our law enforcement.
I live in Bremerton!
Thank you.
Cheryl, Bremerton


Cheryl – My condolences of the loss of your father. The Law Enforcement Memorial is one of the top three most popular plates in Kitsap County.

Chris Henry, reporter


I got my elk plate first when they came out.. I have a 3 digit number so I got them very early. Elk hunting has been a huge part of our family since I was very little, The first time I went to elk camp I was 4, and my sister was 2. We never bought beef, the only red meat in our house was elk and venison. I still have never bought beef in the store. I got my plates 1: to support WDFW, 2: support a sport/ animal that we love and respect, 3: they didn’t have a steelhead one.
We got my wife’s plate about 4 years ago after we upgraded vehicles. We enjoy the outdoors, and wanted to support the National Parks.

Ryan Morse, Silverdale


History of License Plates in Washington State, courtesy Washington DOL
Continue reading

Bill on Highway 166 Passes House

A bill defining the extent of Highway 166 in Port Orchard passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday 93 to 5. SB 6510 now moves on to Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The measure if signed into law would settle a dispute between the state Department of Transportation and the City of Port Orchard over who should maintain a 610-foot section of road at the eastern end of Highway 166. The bill would require the state to maintain the section in question.
The highway now runs from Highway 160 near Gorst, along Sinclair Inlet, through downtown Port Orchard and partway up Mile Hill. A long-standing contract between the city and state says the state will maintain Highway 166 to the eastern city limits. But the city boundary moved farther up Mile Hill with annexation. The contract was not clear on whether responsibility to maintain the annexed section fell to the city or the state.
The roadway is showing signs of neglect, with potholes.
The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, called for extending the state highway 6 miles to include all of Mile Hill Drive and Southworth Drive. The bill was amended to address only the 610-foot section. The senate passed the amended version 48-0 on Feb. 16.
The city bases its position on RCW 4724, which says the state bears responsibility for roadway maintenance on state highways within a city whose population is fewer than 25,000. Port Orchard’s population is just more than 10,000. Another law, RCW 3513, could be interpreted to support the state’s position. The conflict created confusion about who should maintain the road, Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola said.
“The bill clarifies that the state has responsibility for that section of road,” said Coppola. “It’s been our position all along that Mile Hill is a state highway, and it’s the state’s responsibility to maintain it.”
Highway 166 has undergone a name change and has changed hands over the years.
Until 1992, the roadway through Port Orchard to the Southworth ferry was called Highway 160. But the state decided Sedgwick Road was a better route for getting to the ferry terminal and designated it Highway 160, turning the former Highway 160 over to Port Orchard and Kitsap County.
In 1993, the state took back the part of old Highway 160 from Highway 16 to Port Orchard’s eastern city limits because of mudslides near Ross Point. It named the 5-mile stretch Highway 166.

40 Minutes to Bremerton

Were you among those driving through Gorst this morning.? I was, and around 10 a.m., coming from Port Orchard on Highway 16, I encountered a slow rolling backup that extended nearly to the Old-Clifton-Tremont Street exit. I saw that the backup stretched to the other side of Sinclair Inlet.

It took me 40 minutes to get to Bremerton (a drive that usually takes 15 to 20), but I beat my cohort, reporter Brynn Grimley. She stayed on the main road, while I drove up over Sherman Hill Road to Auto Center Way.

The cause is roadwork in the southbound lane (heading from Bremerton to Gorst), as Department of Transportation crews replace plastic shields, known as “glare panels” on top of the Jersey barrier that divides the middle of Highway 3. At night, the glare panels help reduce light in drivers’ eyes caused by oncoming headlights.

The work is expected to conclude around 2 p.m. today.

Have a Hand in the Future of the Sidney/Pottery Corridor

The City of Port Orchard is working on a master plan for the Sidney/Pottery Corridor, between Tremont Street and Sedgwick Road.

See a map of the area with proposed traffic improvements here:


The plan will provide for transportation improvements, including bicycle lanes, sidewalks, bus shelters, attractive lighting, landscaping and “street furniture.”
“This study is intended to provide the entire length with not only an aesthetically pleasing thoroughfare but to also provide a tool for any future development along the corridor,” said James Weaver, the city’s development director.
A component of public outreach for the plan is the creation of a Sidney/Pottery Corridor Study subcommittee consisting of members of the city’s Planning Commission and volunteers from the public.
The city will hold a “kick-off” open house April 20 and conduct an online survey. Comments from the survey will be incorporated into a draft of the plan that will be available to the public.
There will be a joint public hearing on the plan in early fall. The plan is to be adopted in December.
To volunteer for the committee, contact the Port Orchard planning department at (360) 876-4991 and ask for Tom Bonsell, or e-mail

Seattle Web Site Mistakes Port Orchard for Bremerton

It’s a common error. People hear “Bremerton” and they think “Kitsap County.” Hence the persistent perception that we are still the Bremerton Sun.

Check out the Seattle Web site urbanspoon, where Bert Chadwick gives the Koi Bistro a thumbs up in his “I Won’t Carp About Koi Bistro” post. Chadwick writes,”Koi Bistro is one of those that have taken the shell of a failed restaurant (Baja Outpost) and moved in like a hermit crab .” The site clearly lists the restaurant on Piperberry Way in “Port Orchard” under the heading of “Bremerton,” linking to a list of that city’s restaurants.

And check out the Stimulus Watch Web site, where you can browse by state/city. You’ll see the only Kitsap city listed is Bremerton. Well now doesn’t that make the rest of us feel special?

No doubt this is why writers of the Bremerton Beat have such a hard time getting over themselves. I was on vacation when typically mild-mannered Editor David Nelson became intoxicated with power and put Port Orchard back on notice.

Let me spell it out for those of you who can’t tell Port Orchard from Bremerton.

Bremerton, population 37,259 … Port Orchard, 8,500 (soon to be @10,000)

Bremerton, north of Sinclair Inlet … Port Orchard, south of Sinclair Inlet

Bremerton, medium-sized waterfront urban center with semi-deserted streets … Port Orchard, potentially charming waterfront village with semi-deserted streets

Bremerton, annexing the South Kitsap Industrial Area (effective April 1)

Port Orchard, annexing McCormick Woods (finalization expected in early August)

Bremerton: Wants to provide sewer to SKIA. The city is building a sewer line through Gorst that could be extended out to the SKIA area.

Port Orchard: Wants to provide sewer to SKIA. The city’s recently approved comprehensive plan update shows that the city plans to extend a sewer line out through the McCormick Woods/Sunnyslope area with the potential to serve SKIA. Bremerton challenged Port Orchard’s comp plan before the Kitsap County Boundary Review Board. The dispute between the two cities over Port Orchard’s plans to sewer SKIA have not been resolved.

Does that mean that all this rivalry between the two cities is about sewer line envy?

Speaking of Ferries Between Port Orchard and Bremerton

This in from intrepid transportation reporter Ed Friedrich:

“Kitsap Transit plans to grow its ferry operation between Bremerton, Port Orchard and Annapolis.

The agency’s board of commissioners gave it permission Tuesday to buy the ferry Admiral Pete and expand it to carry 115 passengers, up from its current capacity of 82. The boat, owned and operated by Kitsap Harbor Tours and leased by Kitsap Transit, is the route’s workhorse. The ferry, which often nears capacity during peak-time sailings, would be extended 15 feet to carry at least 30 more passengers. …

Kitsap Transit’s Bremerton-Port Orchard ferry ridership grew 12 percent in the past year, from 477,000 boardings to 524,000, Clauson said. It is quicker for passengers and less expensive for the agency than buses. It would take three or four buses to carry a ferry load of people, 10 to 12 buses to match the frequent departure times and the ride times would be much longer, Clauson said.”

Do you ride the foot ferry regularly? Occasionally? How important is the ferry to you? Has that changed because of the recession?

Kitsap Sun Intern’s First Impressions of South Kitsap

Let me introduce Angela Lu, our intern, at least through March. She is living in South Kitsap during her stay with us. Here she shares her honest impressions of South Kitsap.

Angela says:
First impressions of SK

The very first split second I saw South Kitsap — Port Orchard to be exact — was on the evening of January 2, 2009. All I could see of the city was what my headlights and the few bright lights of local eateries would shine light on:
Dark roads.
Fred Meyer (which I’m completely new with)
A few stores and parking lots.
More trees.
A place like nothing I’ve seen before.

Maybe my thoughts and opinions would make more sense if I tell you where I’m coming from. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, which is half an hour (more like an hour with traffic) from Los Angeles. After graduating high school, I went to Northwestern University near Chicago to study journalism. And that is what led me here, to place I’ve never heard of, to intern for a quarter for the Kitsap Sun. After three months I’m headed back to Chicago to finish my junior year in college. Continue reading

McCormick Annexation Money Matters

For anyone who may have missed last night’s meeting between McCormick Woods residents and city of Port Orchard officials, I will tack on at the end of this post a “Property Tax and Franchise Comparison” prepared by the city treasurer that answers the question:

What’ll it cost me?: Basically it’s a wash. City calculations based on 2008 numbers, show that the owner of a $350,000 home who as a county resident currently pays a total of $3,805.46 in taxes and fees would pay a total of $3,798.55 as a resident of Port Orchard. This does not include a storm water utility fee to be introduced in 2009 (approximately $90 annually).

McWoods residents in Port Orchard would pay a city property tax, which goes into the general fund and the city road fund, in addition to their county property tax, but they would no longer have to pay into the county road fund. And McCormick Woods residents would no longer pay the 50 percent sewer surcharge they now do as part of unincorporated Kitsap County, saving each household an average of $300 per year. (“Who would pay for that loss of revenue?” city resident Genevieve Hall asked me this morning. My notes from the meeting show the difference would be distributed among all city residents as a 10 percent increase in sewer fees.)

Will my property taxes go up?: In a word, no, at least not as a result of the annexation, according to Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery. “We look as the whole urban growth area as one for our valuation purposes,” Avery said. Besides that, Avery pointed out, assessed values are trending downward at this time.

Will the city pay for streetlights?: (McWoods residents currently pay for their own streetlights in their dues.) The city would pay for any streetlights on public roads within McCormick Woods and The Ridge. Residents who live on private roads will continue to pay for streetlights.

Will properties in McWoods be rezoned, and therefore subject to a possible tax increase, as a result of updates in the city’s comprehensive plan?: Because McWoods is a planned development, no rezoning of properties within the annexation boundaries is expected or planned, Mayor Lary Coppola said.

How is the city doing financially?: Port Orchard has a long history of fiscal conservatism. Only within the last few years have they started including return envelopes with their utility bills, and city hall visitors must pay a penny a sheet for toilet paper if they have to use the restroom. (I made up the toilet paper thing, but it would be very much in the old PO spirit.) While the city expects 8 percent less in sales tax revenue in 2009 as a result of the economic downturn, it is also expecting to annex a considerable amount of commercial property, including Fred Meyer, which could offset the loss. The city’s budget is tight, and they will balance it by making adjustments, but they are in better shape than most of their neighbors (except Poulsbo), reported John Clauson, who chairs the finance committee.

So what’s in it for Port Orchard?: City officials have said the annexation, while it would provide increased property tax revenue and a small amount of sales tax revenue, would financially be “a wash” for the city. Six additional staff members would be needed to provide services to the area. As a larger jurisdiction, however, the city would be better eligible for state and federal grants and other funding, Coppola said.

Aside from any financial incentives, city officials say, they want McCormick Woods as part of the city because they see them as an asset. Coppola, last night, noted that with its many retirees, McWoods represents a new pool of potential representatives on the city’s volunteer boards or as elected officials. Somebody out there could even replace him, Coppola joked. He added that unincorporated McWoods is a small fish in a big pond (he didn’t exactly put it that way). As part of the city, however, they would be a big fish in a smaller pond and have better representation in their local government.

If this annexation fails, would Port Orchard try again by initiating an annexation itself? This could happen in theory. One method of annexation allows a city to initiate an annexation; then residents in the area to be annexed must vote on it. Would Port Orchard actually do this? probably not, said John Clauson. “Why would we fund an election if you’ve just told us no?” he said. If you choose not to, we’ll shake your hands and we’ll still be your neighbors.”

Here’s the line item financial comparison.

PO Council Ponders its Next Move on SKIA Sewers

Clarification 9/8/08: In a comment below, Bob Meadows called into question the following statement on this entry:

“With financing, the expansion cost $21.5 million, of which $4.5 million represents expanded capacity set to be dedicated to SKIA.”

Regarding the total cost of expansion, I checked with City of Port Orchard Treasurer Kris Tompkins, who replied:

“I think there needs to be clarification.  The expansion cost of the treatment plant was $21.5 million including the debt (financing) of $16.8 million.  The City & District (Karcher Creek Sewer District, now Westsound Utility District) together contributed $4.7 million (50/50%).  These numbers do not include the interest (of 1/2 a percent), which over the life of the debt will be an additional $775,000+.  One loan will be paid off in 2022 & the second in 2024.”

Regarding the cost of the expanded capacity dedicated to SKIA, Bob also called into question the $4.5 million (in the statement above), saying he could find no such reference on the city’s annual financial report. The figure I was using came from an e-mail to me from Lary Coppola on why the city wants to pursue its perceived right to provide sewer to SKIA. City Councilman John Clauson cited an amount of $3.5 in a recent interview.

Kris Tompkins, who replied:

“To my knowledge there has not been any calculation of a monetary value that represents the expanded capacity to be dedicated to SKIA.  So I don’t believe the statement “…of which $4.5 represents expanded
capacity set to be dedicated to SKIA” is correct.  Part of the expanded capacity was in order to service SKIA but I never even have heard that a certain percentage of capacity was attributed to SKIA.”

Here’s the original post:

Members of the Port Orchard City Council are considering what to do next on the issue of Port Orchard’s desire to sewer the South Kitsap Industrial Area, since Wednesday, when the Bremerton City Council voted 7-0 to accept SKIA property owners’ petition to annex SKIA south. The council already voted to accept annexation of SKIA north, for a total of 3,400 acres to be annexed.

The council has yet to meet as a whole, yet in previous meetings, said Councilman John Clauson, they have been united in their desire to see Bremerton uphold a 2003 memorandum of agreement between Port Orchard and the Port of Bremerton, primary property owner of SKIA. The agreement designates Port Orchard as the entity that will provide sewer to the area, slated for development as an industrial park.

But Bremerton officials have said they are under no obligation to honor an agreement to which they are not party.

Mayor Cary Bozeman on Wednesday said the city would look for the deal that best served the residents of Bremerton, be it through Port Orchard or another provider.

“Obviously I’m disappointed in the sense that the City of Bremerton and the City of Port Orchard have had a great relationship forever, and I hate to have it get tarnished in this way,” Clauson said. “I do have a great respect for Mayor Bozeman and the city council. I’d like to talk to them directly.”

As to how far Port Orchard will go to press the matter, Clauson said, “We’ve been talking about the possibility of a lawsuit over this whole issue.”

Although he hoped it doesn’t become a matter for the courts to decide, Clauson said, the council and the Mayor Lary Coppola will do what they need to to defend the city’s investment in an expansion of its wastewater treatment plant, made in part on the assumption that Port Orchard would serve SKIA. The plant is operated jointly by the city and Westsound Utility District (formerly Karcher Creek Sewer District). With financing, the expansion cost $21.5 million, of which $4.5 million represents expanded capacity set to be dedicated to SKIA. The city anticipated money from new hook-ups in SKIA would contribute significantly to the debt, Clauson said, but without SKIA, the burden will fall back on city residents.

“It’s just not fair to the rate-payers if we don’t have the expansion growth that we anticipated,” Clauson said. “So, yeah, I expect it could ultimately make it to court. I’d rather not have to go that direction, but if we have to we have to.”

Rob Puutaansuu, chairman of the city’s utility committee, said talk of a lawsuit was “premature.” Puutaansuu said the council needs answers to certain questions from its own legal council and staff now that Bremerton has made the next move. For one thing, “At what point to we have to force the issue,” said Puutaansuu. “Is it now or down the road when services are provided?”

In anticipation of the need for expanded sewer service to SKIA, Port Orchard, were it the provider, would have to expand its collection line from the pump station on Feigley Road near McCormick Woods that was built with SKIA in mind, said Puutaansuu, who also mentioned being “disappointed” with Bremerton’s stance.

James Weaver, Port Orchard’s development director, said the county’s Boundary Review Board will have to address the memorandum as it rules on the proposed annexation. The board’s review could take 45-120 days. At Wednesday’s meeting, Weaver would not rule out a lawsuit, but said the city was “exhausting every avenue.”

“Litigation is an ugly word,” Weaver said.

County Responds to Funding Questions on Bethel Corridor

On July 29, I posted a blog entry on the county’s proposals for funding a major upgrade to the Bethel Corridor. Slated to cost $43 million with bonding, the project is needed to relieve traffic congestion on South Kitsap’s major commercial corridor. county officials say. Proposals to pay for it include tax measures potentially affecting those who live in the greater South Kitsap area. The county is conducting a survey to gauge voters’ support for such a measure.

Commenter Kathryn Simpson asked why South Kitsap should be the only area taxed in such a manner to fund road improvements. Eric Baker, director of special projects for the county, sent a response to Kathryn’s question, but as a county employee, he’s discouraged from posting to the blog. So I’ll cut and paste his response.

Kathryn wrote:

How did the road improvements in Central Kitsap (Silverdale) and North Kitsap (Poulsbo area) get paid for?

To my understanding, the county portion of these improvement were paid by county funds; which come from county-wide taxes. Now we have a project in South Kitsap (finally!) and the County Commissioners think that just South Kitsap residents should pay for it?

We, in South Kitsap, have paid a share of Central and North end projects. Why shouldn’t Central and North Kitsap help pay for this project?

Kathryn Simpson

Eric wrote:

The large projects in Silverdale and North Kitsap have been paid through several funding sources including federal and state, not just local dollars.

For example, the recently begun Waaga Way Extension Road has an estimated cost of $13M, but only $6-8M is from local funds. The other funds came from the state and federal allocations as well as funds received through a competitive process. The cost of the Bethel Corridor is over $25M ($43M if bonded for twenty years).

The County is actively pursuing such state and federal funding for Bethel, but has been unsuccessful to date. These efforts will continue, but the County needs to look at all options to alleviate the existing and future traffic issue of this roadway.

Additionally, the possible taxes and fees you referenced in your story (TBD and CRID) are not being considered only for Bethel and South Kitsap. Improvements to Bucklin Hill Road, Ridgetop Blvd., State Highway 104 and 305 will be looking at similar funding mechanisms, paid for by the citizens that benefit from them. You mentioned these but the blogs seemed to have missed this point.

On a related post, Bob Meadows had this question:

Is this the only explanation we will be given about the county’s decision to take back the funding from existing revenues which had been offered last spring and summer for the Bethel Corridor project?

“If people aren’t willing to pay anything, we don’t have a project,” Angel said. “A lot of people believe there is money to do this project. There is not.”

I guess I could take Angel literally — there is no funding at all, so we can never expect ever again another road improvement project anywhere in the county paid by our existing taxes, since there is no money.

I want to know when the memorial service will be held for the county’s road program. It would be a shame for it to go away with some little “good-by” from all of us.

It will save some of the commissioners’ time, though. They won’t have to update the road plan or do any of that stuff for any place at all in the county ever again, because there is no money.

If the county expects people to approve new taxes, the county leaders need to explain what happened between April and August 2007. It wasn’t a lack of county funds from existing taxes that caused the county to yank away the funds from the Bethel Corridor project.

To which Eric responded:

The size and cost of the Bethel Corridor project (twice that of the Waaga Way extension at $13M) makes it more complicated than other projects. There are road funds in the six-year transportation improvement plan (TIP), but unless a majority of these funds are dedicated to Bethel over the next 20 years the project cannot be completed. This would mean foregoing many other key projects throughout the County for a significant period of time.

The County has invested $4.2M in local money in the Bethel Corridor to date (already half of the $6-8M of local money invested in the completion of the Waaga Way Extension). These expenses include $1.5M for design and permitting and $2.7M in property acquisition. Both the CRID and TBD funding mechanisms have limited abilities to increase the funding as costs increase. If a CRID or TBD is approved, the cost estimated for the project is the generally the amount that can be collected. This would not cover increases in right-of-way costs and asphalt and other construction components that are likely to occur over the development of the project. As there can be no more money received from the TBD or the CRID after initial approval, the Road Fund will be expected to cover those increases.

With the local money already spent and the liklihood of increased costs, the local Road Fund contibution will easily be the equivolent of the Waaga Way Extension (between $6-8M), both which greatly exceed the contibution to any other County road project. The inclusion of additional local funding will greatly affect the ability for the County to fund many important projects in the rural areas such as culvert replacements (shown to be critically important by the December 3rd storm), bridge replacements and other life safety improvements throughout South Kitsap as well as the rest of the County.

With a project a cost of over $25M ($43M if bonded for 20 years), the County must look at other funding mechanisms such as the CRID and TBD if we expect to pay for the project and begin construction.