PORT ORCHARD — The City of Port Orchard has begun the slow, laborious process of developing a comprehensive plan to revamp the overcrowded — and growing — Bethel Road and Sedgwick Road corridor, one of the city’s critical connecting roadways between State Route 16 and downtown.
A draft public review plan was released by the city’s Department of Community Development earlier this month and presented at a City Council work study session Aug. 14 at City Hall. On Sept. 25 in the City Council Chambers, the public will get an opportunity to voice its opinions on the draft plan at a 6:30 p.m. hearing.
Nick Bond, the city’s director of Community Development, said the draft plan provides long-range development guidance for the two critical transportation corridors into and through Port Orchard. The plan was developed from a corridor study undertaken by the city and its partner SCJ Alliance to evaluate current and previous planning work to develop a comprehensive strategy for the busy corridors.
The city’s transportation corridor plan ultimately would cost $53.8 million to build, according to city planners. But as with the Tremont street widening project that’s closing in on completion next spring, money to fund the Bethel-Sedgwick project would need to come from a collection of government sources, including funding from city, county, state and federal road improvement grants. The city also could tap into its traffic impact fee fund to help pay for the project.
According to city planning documents, the study’s objective was to develop “a conceptual corridor design that improves mobility and supports growth in the area.” It has provided recommendations for both Southeast Sedgwick Road, or State Route 160, between SR 16 and Bethel Road Southeast and between Southeast Sedgwick Road and the Mile Hill Drive roundabout on Bethel. The study indicated it also gave consideration to the surrounding side street network.
Due to an influx of King County residents into the area and better ferry service options, motorists are feeling the impact of growing traffic conditions, especially on Bethel Road and its busy commercial sector stretching from Sedgwick and north to the Lund Avenue intersection. The study indicated that Bethel traffic is expected to increase by 85 percent by 2040, Elisabeth Wooton, SCJ transportation planning lead, told council members at the meeting.
“That’s due a lot to the land use along the corridor and the potential for development there,” Wooton said. “In the north section of Bethel, it’ll see a 55-percent increase — there’s a little bit less development potential in the north side.”
The Sedgwick Road corridor, which today has the higher traffic volumes of the two arterials, will continue to hold that distinction in 2040 as traffic grows by an expected 45 percent. Wooton said Sedgwick Road is labeled as more of a commuter route for the community, while Bethel is seen as a mixed-use corridor providing access to commercial businesses.
Work on Sedgwick will ultimately land at the feet of Washington state lawmakers since that roadway is the responsibility of the state Department of Transportation. But improvements to that corridor are critical to the ultimate success of the city project, planners said.
“Sedgwick is not our responsibility,” Port Orchard Mayor Rob Putaansuu said on Aug. 21. “But you can’t get to Bethel without using Sedgwick, so we’ve got the concepts ready if and when the state starts to consider doing something.”
The mayor said plenty of challenges are ahead for the project. In addition to persuading the state to review SR 160 needs in the area, Putaansuu said the overall corridor project will require close coordination among government agencies in the upcoming years.
“This project is going to cost $54 million, and we can’t afford that [as a city],” he said. “One of the lessons we learned doing the Tremont project was to build it in stages. Our mistake there was in first taking federal money. That started the clock on needing to start the project even before we acquired right of way property.”
In order to tackle the overall Bethel-Sedgwick project, the draft corridor plan calls for a five-segment effort beginning with work on road widening and improvements on Bethel between the Salmonberry and Blueberry roads. That phase 1 work is estimated to cost $12,020,000 in 2018 dollars.
Preliminary plans include a design that would include two single-lane roundabouts on Bethel at both Salmonberry and Blueberry. Also included would be a sidewalk, bio-retention swale, curb and gutter, bike lane, a raised center median and one travel lane in each direction.
Phase 2 work, costing $16,670,000 to build, would be part of any state project to improve Sedgwick. It would include corridor widening on Sedgwick Road and two roundabouts at both Bravo Terrace and a new intersection between Geiger and Ramsey roads. Similar road section improvements would be implemented in this phase work, as well. A raised center median on Sedgwick between the two roundabout intersections and an eastbound left-turn-only lane between the new intersections to Bethel Road would allow access at Ramsey Road until a roundabout could be constructed at the Sedgwick-Bethel road intersection.
A roundabout would be constructed at the intersection of Sedgwick and Bethel roads as part of phase 3 work. That segment would cost $5,820,000. The final design will confirm the number of circulating lanes needed. As with the other phase work, road, sidewalk, bicycle accommodation, single travel lanes and a raised center median would be incorporated. This phase of construction work also would convert the eastbound left-turn lane on Sedgwick between the new intersection to Bethel to a raised center median and convert Ramsey Road to right-in/right-out access only.
Another two roundabouts at Lund Avenue and Walmart Access Road would be constructed as part of the phase 4 work, estimated to cost $8,750,000. Lund Avenue to Salmonberry Road work on Bethel would include similar street and sidewalk improvements.
The final phase work on Bethel between Lund and Mile Hill Drive calls for a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Bethel and Lincoln Road/Lundberg Avenue. Lundberg is proposed to be realigned with Lincoln Avenue to create a four-leg intersection. The Bethel segment also would include street and sidewalk improvements.
Also part of the phase 5 work is a plan to convert Mitchell Road between Bethel and Lincoln to a one-way street northbound, rerouting southbound vehicles on Mitchell to Lincoln and Bethel. Cost estimates for that segment run at about $10,540,000.