By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD – Kitsap Transit has its sights on building another Park and Ride facility in South Kitsap in order to make mass transit attractive to more motorists and to reduce the number of cars on local roads.
During a Feb. 16 presentation to the Port Orchard City Council, members were able to peek under the hood of the Park and Ride facility planned for the Ruby Creek neighborhood, near the intersection of Southwest Sedgwick Road and Sidney Road Southwest.
Land acquisition for the $8 million to $13 million project can begin once the Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners gives the green light, officials said. Approval may be given at the group’s next meeting on March 2. The project is slated to take three years to complete.
Kitsap Transit staff hired Parametrix, a consulting firm, to evaluate potential sites along SR 16 between Gorst and the current Mullenix Park and Ride location and come up with a final recommendation.
Sandy Glover, a Parametrix consultant, explained to council members how the selection of the southwest Port Orchard site became the firm’s top recommendation.
She said their goal was to locate the facility in an area that would provide bus riders connections to transit routes to high activity areas, such as downtown Port Orchard and Bremerton, and the Southworth ferry terminal.
A central objective of the transit parking facility is to attract single-occupancy drivers and reduce traffic congestion in Gorst and the downtown areas of Bremerton and Port Orchard, she added.
One advantage of the selected site, she said, is that it will be convenient for those living on the west side of SR 16, which is an area of significant growth, said John Clauson, Kitsap Transit’s executive director and council member.
Site criteria included that the location is to be within a half-mile of SR 16, be least four acres in size, allow for expansion in the future and accommodate 250 parking stalls, Glover said.
The Park and Ride facility is expected to feature up to three bus bays, according to officials.
The proposed site is within walking distance of several nearby residential buildings, Glover said. The surrounding area also is expected to see substantial growth.
The City of Port Orchard is about to issue a building permit for a 63-unit building in the Ruby Creek neighborhood and is reviewing a permit application for another 216-unit apartment complex, Community Development Director Nick Bond said.
When the consultant team was paring down potential sites for the Park and Ride location, the study came down to two sites, the consultant noted, who added that deciding between the two final locations was “a close call.”
The runner-up site was the City of Port Orchard’s landfill on Old Clifton Road, near the Peninsula Work Release facility and across the street from the juvenile courthouse.
Although the landfill location was not chosen, officials signaled that the site could be used for a second Park and Ride facility in the future.
Glover outlined factors that worked against the second site:
“One was perceived safety – how would riders feel about being near work release and the juvenile facility across the street? And that there are fewer eyes on the site as there is not much traffic up there. No one lives really close,” Glover said.
Also, the location would require remediation of the landfill. Such work would slow construction time and lead to higher costs, she said.
The Ruby Creek site is within the area covered by the Ruby Creek Neighborhood Subarea Plan, which was adopted last September by the Port Orchard City Council.
The Ruby Creek neighborhood plan covers 166 acres, 70 of which are currently developed. The 45 remaining acres is zoned for a mix of commercial and residential development
The area is zoned for a variety of housing types and commercial use. When completed, city officials envision the area to contain approximately 1,800 residents and be the site for 652 jobs.
Park and recreation amenities are also slated to exist along Ruby Creek and Blackjack Creek.
Already in the neighborhood are two apartment complexes, an Albertsons grocery store, Sidney Glen Elementary School, a few small shopping centers and two gas stations.
Officials said that having the new Park and Ride in a growing area that is readily accessible from other parts of the county makes the Ruby Creek location a good fit.