City completes environmental re-evaluation process for pedestrian pathway project

Right-of-way phase, property acquisition to resume

PORT ORCHARD — Taking almost a year to complete, the City of Port Orchard has finished its comprehensive federal and state environmental re-evaluation process for the city’s high-profile Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway project.

The project, which has been underway since 2005, was given the approval to resume negotiations of over-water properties and near-water rights of way as needed to accommodate project construction.

Designed for use by pedestrians and cyclists, the multi-modal pathway will run from the Kitsap Transit center in downtown Port Orchard to the Annapolis Pier when it is completed. The project will serve as a featured section of the envisioned Mosquito Fleet Trail, connecting Kingston to Southworth.

Mayor Rob Putaansuu said the community improvement project will give the public new access to the shoreline, open a link to Annapolis to benefit local businesses, and improve the aquatic environment through its sensitive design.

“The initial segments of the pathway constructed over the past three years, including segment no. 3 along with Rockwell Park, have proven to be tremendously successful and well-received by the community,” Putaansuu said. “The pathway extension to Annapolis will complement the current revival of that neighborhood and further promote the common vision to encourage healthy, active lifestyles.”

Based on public input during the environmental re-evaluation in 2019, the city received approval to change the plans to incorporate a curb and rail design rather than the previously recommended Jersey Barriers, to improve the aesthetic of the 14-foot-wide, two-lane pathway, while remaining safe and functional.

“Trails and paths are well-known for bringing prosperity to communities,” Putaansuu said. “They’re among the top three amenities that new residents look for in a neighborhood. They typically enhance property values and it’s common for retail businesses to directly benefit from new and increased traffic. We’re confident that the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway is going to be a win for all and a source of pride for the community.”

The continued acquisitions will be conducted by Tierra Right-of-Way Services, LLC, a third-party agency hired exclusively to manage the purchase agreements. Officials anticipate the acquisition phase will extend into 2021.

Putaansuu said the city is compassionate toward homeowners and businesses along the pathway that have followed the project during its 15-years development.

“We are thankful for the majority of property owners who have already agreed to work with us for the betterment of the community. By working together, we will create a pathway that will be our crown jewel,” he said in a statement provided by the city.

Officials estimate that once property acquisitions are completed, the project will be advertised for bidders. Construction is expected to begin in 2022.