$4 million Ridgetop Drive ‘widening’ coming in 2019

The in basket: I was looking through Kitsap County’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) recently when I came upon an entry that really surprised me.

It says that in 2019 the county plans to spend $4 million widening Ridgetop Boulevard between Highway 303 and Avante Drive, which is practically its entire length from 303 north.

The only detail listed is “widening, channelization, rain gardens.” I asked if it would become four lane all that distance and whether the center planting areas would be eliminated.

The out basket: The answer was generally no, and most of the work will be addressing storm water, not traffic.

Mindy Fohn of the county storm water division says, “This project involves roadway widening  at the south end, intersection channelization near the center, and multiple bioretention storm water treatment facilities  (commonly called “rain gardens”) along the full length of the project.

“The project will widen Ridgetop Boulevard to provide two northbound and two southbound lanes from Waaga Way (SR 303) to Hillsboro Drive. This section of Ridgetop Boulevard frequently experiences intersection congestion and long vehicular queues.  The improvement will provide needed intersection capacity and alleviate queue spillback that occurs between the closely spaced intersections.”

I’m not sure what spillback is, but I’m sure the project will please drivers wanting to turn onto 303 to go north but can’t because through traffic waiting at the red light is blocking the only lane approaching the  existing right turn lane.

“The Ridgetop Boulevard widening project,” Mindy continued, “will also reconstruct Ridgetop Boulevard from Ridgepoint Drive to Timber Shadow Court by removing the planted medians in the vicinity of the intersections.

“The Traffic Division has received requests for improved pedestrian crossings to the commercial land uses and transit stops in the area.  The improvement will provide shorter pedestrian crossings and better define vehicular paths for turning movements.

“Up to 13 bioretention facilities will be constructed in the median providing a high level of storm water treatment of the road runoff, which currently is untreated and flows into Dyes Inlet.  The soils in this area, generally, are permeable to infiltrate the runoff.

“These storm water facilities are partially funded with a $375,000 grant from Washington State Department of Ecology and are an essential project in the continuing effort to clean up storm water flowing into Dyes Inlet.”

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