If you’ve driven “off island” on Highway 305 between Bainbridge and Poulsbo in the last year or so, you’ve no doubt encountered the road work being done at the intersection of Johnson Road and our beloved state highway.
The new roundabout being completed there is the first segment of a traffic improvement plan being orchestrated by the Washington State Department of Transportation on what’s known in political circles at the SR 305 Corridor. Later this month, on March 22 to be exact, the Bainbridge Island City Council has scheduled a public hearing to consider the transfer of a city-owned piece of property to WSDOT that would indirectly allow for the construction of one of two planned roundabouts on the island portion of 305.
The property is located at the corner of 305 and West Port Madison Road and is a small triangle that WSDOT needs to complete the construction of a storm water management pond in support of the future roundabout. Ironically, the city received the property from WSDOT several years ago at no cost and is considering transferring it back in return for enhanced landscaping along the proposed project corridor.
Besides the Johnson Street and West Port Madison roundabouts, WSDOT crews are also planning to build a third one – also on Bainbridge – at the intersection of 305 and Northeast Adas Will Lane, on the island’s north end. The actual construction date hasn’t been officially nailed down yet, but is slated to be completed sometime between now and the spring of 2024. Before work starts, the City Council has requested that WSDOT hold a virtual public meeting to inform the community about the upcoming Bainbridge projects and other “priority projects along the SR 305 corridor in advance of its consideration of the property transfer.” A date for that meeting has not been set. The estimated cost for all three roundabouts is $36.8 million.
Representatives from the cities of Bainbridge and Poulsbo, the Suquamish Tribe and WSDOT have been meeting on a regular basis since 2015 to discuss the 305 corridor plan. “Why are we doing this?” asks Bainbridge Mayor Joe Deets, in an interview with The Island Wanderer. “Traffic (on 305) is atrocious. If we do nothing, it’s going to get worse. We have a responsibility to act…(and) from what I understand from the engineers and experts, roundabouts are the way to go.”
Deets says the longer range plan for the 305 corridor calls for additional roundabouts at Sportsmen’s Club Road, Koura Road, Day Road, and in front the Suquamish Clearwater Casino. “There’s just not enough available money (now) to do what needs to be done,” he says. “We know (building roundabouts) is expensive and environmentally damaging, but we have to do something.”
Also in the discussion loop is the possibility – sometime in the future – of replacing the aging Agate Pass Bridge with a new three-lane span at an estimated cost of $122 million. Right now, there is no funding available to do so, so WSDOT plans to continue to preserve the 71-year-old bridge through annual cleaning and inspections.
Meanwhile, the Johnson Street roundabout is tentatively slated for completion sometime this summer, according to Ed Stern, long-time city councilor with the City of Poulsbo, which helped finance some of the work. Stern says the new traffic mobility system will help “alleviate portions (of the highway) that have had a high degree of accidents” over the years. The project also includes a pedestrian and bicycle tunnel that will provide people with access to Lemolo Bay from Johnson Street.
Stern says the roundabout will include a 14-foot-tall wrought-iron sculpture that will serve as a welcoming sign, and commemorate the Suquamish Tribe, along with Poulsbo’s Norwegian heritage. It will be designed by tribal artists and spell out “Welcome” in a number of different languages. “I think it will be the only statue (of its kind) on a state highway,” he adds.
For more information on the SR 305 Corridor plan visit: SR 305 and West Port Madison roundabout project.
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