PO considers westward expansion of pedestrian path

The city of Port Orchard will explore options to extend the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway westward as far as Tremont Street, even as it has yet to begin construction on its eastward expansion to Annapolis.

The announcement was made Sept. 13 as a part of the city’s long-term vision of encouraging multimodal transportation like walking and biking in and around downtown as well as the desire for a complete street treatment on Port Orchard Boulevard between Bay and Tremont. The city also hopes to increase access to public transportation as the new path would stem from the Kitsap Foot Ferry dock and downtown bus hub.

“The study area has bike and pedestrian accessibility challenges,” a city statement reads. “Significant redevelopment work within the study area is planned in the near future, providing an excellent opportunity to improve accessibility for all.”

A public survey asks what improvements residents want to see along the roadway and also provides preliminary design pictures to choose from. The designs run as short as from the ferry dock to the tentative Port Orchard Community Event Center and as long as all the way to Tremont. Additionally, pathway widths range from a 6-foot sidewalk with two on-road bike lanes to a 13-foot shared-use path with one on-road bike lane. Costs are unknown this early on.

City officials such as Mayor Rob Putannsuu have continued to stand by the importance of the pathway and its future purpose despite the controversial acquisition of some waterfront properties and unclear communication with the populace as to the direction of the project.

Putaansuu said he believes this next expansion will provide the same benefits he has seen in the path’s current length. “The pathway that we have built is highly utilized and greatly appreciated by the public,” he says in an email “so I do believe it is in the best interest of the city. More multimodal pathways and bike lanes are a frequent request I receive.”

The city is working to finalize the 100% design and right-of-way phase for the Annapolis-bound expansion despite previous expectations for work to begin this year. Construction is now expected to start in the next 12 to 18 months, Putaansuu said.