POULSBO — Improvements along the State Route 305 corridor were the talk of a recent meeting of the Poulsbo City Council. WSDOT’s Steve Roark presented conceptual ideas for a $36 million plan that will see major revisions along a roughly 11-mile stretch of 305, in order to improve traffic mobility and safety between the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal and Hostmark Street in Poulsbo.
“I want to emphasize the word conceptual,” Roark said at the council meeting. “Please don’t hold us to exactly what you see on these screens today, but there’s some ideas in the very early stages of some of the major improvements we think we’re ready to make.”
Roark said the Agate Pass Bridge will be painted next year. “That’s going to be a bit of a traffic pinch for everybody. It’ll probably happen at the same time we’re advancing some of these other improvements on the corridor.”
Other proposed improvements include roundabouts at Johnson, Totten and Masi roads west of the bridge. Also proposed was optimization of stop light timing. On Bainbridge, three more roundabouts are planned at Day Road, Ada’s Will Lane and NE Port Madison Road.
The intersection in front of the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort was another area along 305 identified for improvements. Despite the fact that the presentation only proposed signal and timing optimization for the intersection, Roark said in a later interview that WSDOT has been talking with the tribe about other options as well, such as extending left turn pockets and adding a roundabout.
In a nutshell, Roark said, the Legislature offered nearly $37 million to WSDOT in order to create traffic improvements along the 305 corridor.
“There was a lot of dialogue before we received this money, but this really was the catalyst to get a working group together with all the local partners to figure out what is the right way to invest the money.”
The working group behind the project developed a number of goals for the 305 revisions, which included:
- Improving corridor safety and mobility
- Addressing constraints of existing Agate Pass Bridge
- Increasing the ability to move people and improve overall corridor capacity
- Providing travel time reduction and reliability
- Addressing access needs for adjacent properties
- Protecting and enhancing the environment
In a preliminary survey of 1,222 users of SR305, 70 percent identified “traffic signals at intersections” as an issue. Roark confirmed that roundabouts were the preferred traffic revision — where possible — when it came to improving intersections, but added that they were not without their own challenges.
“From an intersection control standpoint, roundabouts perform very well both from a safety standpoint and from a mobility standpoint. However, here at DOT we’re very aware that they take some adjustment. Motorists take a little time getting used to yielding and making movements through a roundabout. … The data is very clear: They clearly improve safety performance. They clearly improve mobility, and so while it may take a little bit of an adjustment, we think at the end of the day, it’s going to improve this corridor greatly.”
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at email@example.com.