Another idea for bypassing Belfair

The in basket: I was cleaning out old e-mails and came across one from Tom Rosendale that slipped by me completely when I received it in January 2012.

Tom had read a  Road Warrior column about an idea to keep some of the traffic that is clogging Belfair out of the town by linking Old Belfair Highway with Highway 3, sometimes called the New Belfair Highway, by extending Newkirk Road between them.

It would provide Highway 300/North Shore Road traffic a way to reach Highway 3 without having to pass through the center of Belfair.

Tom’s idea had the same goal. “I’d like to mention how wonderful and logical it would be to connect the Bear Creek-Dewatto Road, which is a feeder road from the many communities within a few miles of the county lines, to Lake Flora Road,” he said. “There would be even more people who would bypass sections of Highway 3, diminish the unnecessary congestion in Belfair, and provide them quicker access to Belfair, Port Orchard, Highway 16, and Gorst.”

Such a road would link to Highway 3 across from its intersection with Lake Flora, another mile or so north of where Newkirk Road’s extension would. I don’t know how much, if any, of such a roadway already exists, as Newkirk Road does. It wouldn’t be completely within Mason County, though, and have to be a two-county project.

But it does sound like the kind of thing Kitsap County had in mind when it build the new Lake Flora Road roundabout, citing expected increased traffic from the South Kitsap Industrial Area as an instigator.

I asked Brian Matthews, Mason County public works director, if he’d ever heard Tom’s idea before. I also asked what the study of the Newkirk Road extension, the subject of that 2012 column, had decided.

The out basket: Brian replied, “The Newkirk road connection is feasible, but would have a high cost due to the need to build retaining walls etc… No cost estimate, but (it was) just a review to determine if the road is even physically possible.

“I don’t recall Mr. Rosendale’s recommendation ever being mentioned since I’ve been with the County,” he said.

Neither idea probably would go very far if prospects of the state funding the Belfair Bypass aren’t dashed again in the Legislature. Last thing I read, on May 4, held out hope for getting between $60 million and $110 million for the bypass, which would run from Lake Flora Road to Highway 302 near Allyn.

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