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Council says get crosswalk moving, now

Talk is cheap, but walking apparently isn’t.

Responding to public pleads for a crosswalk, the Bainbridge Island City Council was briefed on city efforts to do just that.

The efforts, however, may take longer than the council had in mind and come with a $10,000 price tag.

Still, despite the timely hurdles in front of them, the council opted to put in a crosswalk for young students as soon as possible. City staff wanted to wait until 2014 before putting the crosswalk in.

On Wednesday, the council told the city manager to look into the possibility of putting in a crosswalk on Sportsmen Club Road between Woodward Middle School and Sakai Intermediate, and the Coppertop Loop where many students journey for after-school activities.

The move was in response to the many requests from an island Girl Scout troop that took to the lecturn in the council chambers last week and warned of the potential danger near the school.

This week, Public Works Director Lance Newkirk briefed the council on a Safe Route To Schools grant that the city has applied for and is waiting approval.

The state is expected to compose their list of cities that will receive the grant by the end of the year.

If the city obtains the grant, various road improvements —including a crosswalk on Sportsmen Club Road — are planned. The total cost for the project would be just under $200,000.

The crosswalk in mind includes striping with lighting and an automatic radar speed sign to remind drivers to slow down.

The bump in the road? It will take until 2014 before any of those improvements can be installed.

The timeframe didn’t sit well with the council.

“What I think the council was responding to was a request from citizens to put in a cross walk,” said Councilman Steve Bonkowski. “I believe there is an opportunity to put in a crosswalk in a shorter period of time which is road striping and signs.”

Interim City Manager Morgan Smith said the school district was excited about the grant, but also had concerns about where the crosswalk would be placed.

After speaking with school district officials, Smith suggested that the city wait to see where Bainbridge ranks in terms of receiving the grant.

That will take approximately a month, and Smith noted that the crosswalk project alone would come in at approximately $10,000, including striping, raised bumps and lighting.

“It would be financial prudent to make decisions based on the grant,” Smith said.

But the council remained set on doing something sooner rather than later.

Council members suggested moving ahead with the crosswalk regardless of the grant.

“I understand working with the school district, but do we have to consider the school district to put a crosswalk on our street?” asked Councilwoman Sarah Blossom.

“And these aren’t the school district’s kids, these are parents’ kids and they are concerned now,” she said.

“I thought we were going to have a discussion about what we can do now, before 2014,” Blossom added. “The days are getting darker and I hope that solving this doesn’t get too large and complicated, involving traffic studies and so on.”

Councilwoman Anne Blair agreed, and even had a suggestion for the schools to chip in.

“I absolutely support getting something done sooner than later,” Blair said. “There is this old-fashioned thing called a crossing guard. Is that something that can get worked out?”

“The Legislature may not give us the money,” she added.

The council opted to take the “sooner than later” approach and voted unanimously to direct the city manager to start on the crosswalk project as soon as possible.

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