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Pedestrian fix proposed
"What would you do if you had $60,000 to spend on pedestrian improvements?That's what Bainbridge Island City Council Chair Merrill Robison asked local pedestrian advocates, and they responded with a shopping list for Winslow.We were very pleased, said Orabelle Connally of the Senior Center Pedestrian Safety Committee. (Robison) has been quite a supporter.The senior group identified five priority areas for improvement and associated costs for each. Robison followed up with a formal proposal before the city council this week, calling for a mid-year budget amendment to fund the proposed improvements.The proposals:Ericksen Avenue - Top priority for the group is the placement of a stop sign at Ericksen Avenue and Wyatt Way, a three-way intersection at which only drivers heading east are required stop as they reach the T.The group also wants to see the southbound vehicle lane narrowed the length of Ericksen, with the fog line moved in to allow more room for pedestrians. Committee members, which have made a campaign of monitoring traffic around town, said that an average of 50 pedestrians an hour use the road's shoulders.Estimated cost: $10,000.Crosswalks and pedestrian islands - First on the list is a crosswalk on High School Road, connecting the Virginia Villa Apartments with the Village Shopping area.I have friends at Virginia Villa, Connally said, and they say there are residents who just walk around and around the building because they're afraid to cross High School Road.The group contends that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a sidewalk ramp for wheelchair access should be required to give better access to the Safeway parking area - and that the shopping center, not the city, should have to put it in.The group also wants to see new crosswalks with pedestrian islands at three points on Madison Avenue - at the intersections with Knechtel Way, Wallace Way and Ihland Way. Kitsap Transit buses make regular stops at each of those points, committee members said.Estimated cost: $14,000. Brush cutting - The group identified three intersections - Grow/Winslow, Grow/Wyatt and Wyatt/Ericksen - where sightlines are blocked for drivers and pedestrians. The group wants to see shrubbery in these areas pared back by up to five feet.Connally said that from her observation, most problem brush areas exist in public rights of way, although she believes neighbors should be contacted to make sure trees and foliage aren't removed from private yards.It's always a controversial thing on this island, she said.Estimated cost: $6,000.Signage - The group wants to see Pedestrian Crossing signs placed at each of the new crosswalks, as well on Winslow Way to mark crossings at Ericksen and Town and Country. Ericksen and Grow Avenue also lack speed limit signs, they say.The group calls for a total of 22 new signs. Estimated cost: $10,000.Enforcement: If the seniors get their way, the balance of the funds - some $20,000 - would be shifted to the budget of Bainbridge Police, to pay for extra traffic enforcement the rest of the year.We hope if (the improvements aren't completed), they'll put it all into policing, Connally said. If they can't fix it so the environment slows people down, maybe the cops can slow them down.Bainbridge Police Chief Bill Cooper wants to dedicate an officer to full-time traffic duty, including radar enforcement, but says the department is currently short of manpower. Other improvements are already in the works. An experimental traffic-calming program will go into effect on Madison Avenue, between Wyatt Way and Winslow Way, later this month.The seniors' pedestrian package will go before the council's operations committee at its next meeting.Robison said the $60,000 was an arbitrary figure, sort of out of the air, based on what he believes the city has saved by not having a public works director on the payroll. Long-time public works director Bill Bryan was fired last fall, and the position has yet to be filled.Robison decided the savings could be put back into some unplanned but necessary amenities.I guess I'm a little tired of (hearing), 'we don't' have the staff' or 'we don't have the money,' Robison said. Somebody is going to get killed (crossing the street). "