From Christmas light slowdowns to run-ins with Bainbridge Island’s “Lawnmower Man,” for North Kitsap residents whose daily grind includes not only traffic along Highways 104, 305 and 307 but ferry trips across the Puget Sound, getting to and from work is job in itself.
That’s their problem, right?
And while Kitsap Transit’s Proposition 1 would help their plight, there’s really no valid reason to support a countywide sales tax increase that would bring about the addition of passenger-only ferries, right? Wrong on both counts.
Yet that was the attitude that some members of the North Kitsap Herald Advisory Board shared before they met with Kitsap Transit’s Dick Hayes and passenger-only proponent Sonny Woodward Thursday night to get some answers. In the course of an hour and a half of no punches pulled questions, the board agreed that Proposition 1, does indeed make sense.
Not just for commuters, but for everyone in Kitsap County.
It’s important to note that the board does include two North Kitsap-Seattle commuters (one from Poulsbo, the other from Hansville), a retired resident of Poulsbo who rarely travels to Seattle, a Hansville-Poulsbo commuter and a Keyport businessman who typically drives around via the Narrows Bridge in order to get to Seattle. Yet the support of Proposition 1 was unanimous.
Unanimous because the group concurred that, whether they’d use it daily or on an irregular basis, passenger-only ferries and an improved cross Sound connection would prove beneficial to the quality of life here in Kitsap.
Although cases of Jefferson County residents commuting via SR 305 and Winslow to the east side are extreme, it’s vital to point out that a good number of Silverdale commuters turn their back on the Bremerton run in favor of Winslow as well. This means more cars on the road, more congestion and simply more problems for all motorists — not just commuters who cross the Sound.
When presented with the argument that instead of decreasing the length of trips to and from the ferries and the number of vehicles on the roads, the new POF service would actually lure more and more east siders to Kitsap, Clauson said simply, “Growth is coming.”
It is. One way or the other, the population here is increasing and the idea that “I’m in, let’s close the door now” just doesn’t fly. And that’s where Proposition 1 really begins to work — not just for North Kitsap but the whole county.
The implementation of a countywide passenger-only service is a proactive step in ensuring residents here have improved connections to the east side while helping reduce the burden on our existing and aging infrastructure.
As Hayes put it, “It’s an investment in the future.”
The cost, 3/10th of 1 percent, we agreed, is negligible in terms of what the tax money will mean for Kitsap County. The additional cost on a $10 purchase is 3 cents.
But what that 3 cents buys is significant.
Contrary to popular belief, if the service does go belly up, the tax will continue only until the necessary debts are repaid. The boats, if needed, could be sold, Hayes said. Therefore reducing the debt further.
Opponents of the measure liken it to the failed Aqua Express venture that sailed a Kingston-Seattle run before folding. Hayes pointed out that AE’s boat was basically too big for the run and not as fuel efficient as the vessels being planned under Proposition 1. The fact that it was also cost prohibitive and non-subsidized didn’t help matters either.
KT’s $7-$9 roundtrip fares are reasonable, too, and coupled with the sales tax are the beginning of big things here.
“We expect the passenger-only ferries we’re talking about is the start of a whole system,” Hayes said.
Over time, runs could be added in Poulsbo and/or Suquamish to reduce congestion on Highway 305 and throughout North Kitsap even further.
Despite all this, opponents take up the age old stance: “What’s in it for me?”
And while the board agreed that this position can be applied to everything from supporting public schools to paying taxes on roads in Eastern Washington, what’s in it for you is an improved transportation system as a whole. What’s in it for you is a better county than the one you currently call home. That alone should be more than enough reason to support Proposition 1.