"Bainbridge is doing its share, Bev"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:54 PM
"While talking about statewide transportation funding last week, Rep. Beverly Woods once again chided Bainbridge Island for being insular about traffic congestion.Her complaint is that the slow, crowded crawl from a Bainbridge job back to the peninsula cut too deeply into her crews' productive time.And, the Poulsbo Republican said, our city has resisted solutions like a second bridge to the peninsula, or a wider Highway 305.Why is this our problem?Well, most of us depend, in some form or fashion, on folks from the rest of the county. If they run late, we run late. If they add a surcharge to recoup time lost in traffic, we pay.And there's the issue of simple consideration. Peninsula residents aren't some alien species. They're neighbors, and as such, deserving of whatever help we can give.Finally, there's the overriding fact that they outnumber us. And they vote. All of us (and our seemingly ubiquitous law degrees) can be dedicated to the proposition that our island shouldn't be a highway to Silverdale. But a whole lot of folks on the peninsula are equally fervent in their desire to shorten the commute by cutting across Bainbridge.So we need to pay attention when a politician like Rep. Woods says that Bainbridge has resisted solutions to the traffic problem.What we need to say, loud and long, is that it's a bum rap. What has Bainbridge done?Well, for starters, how about providing the votes necessary to pass the Kitsap Transit sales-tax levy to restore and improve bus service, and cut the cost in half.In the long run, better transit service will do a lot more good than pouring more concrete. Number-crunchers tell us that a bus passenger takes up one twenty-fifth as much highway room as one single-occupant vehicle. So it doesn't take too many more buses to get half the rush-hour cars off of Highway 305.Second, Bainbridge has supported job creation in Kitsap County, to reduce the need for a commute. The city council did lend financial support to the Kitsap Economic Development Council's job-creating efforts, over the protests of some members and citizens who said that economic development doesn't do anything for Bainbridge Island. Those protests were not only short-sighted, but feed further the unproductive perception that island concerns stop at the Agate Passage Bridge.Finally, islanders and their representatives have been strong and consistent supporters of better ferry service to other parts of the county, particularly to Kingston. And if service to other destinations like downtown Poulsbo becomes a possibility, we're sure that island support will be just as strong.Woods is right when she says Highway 305 traffic is Bainbridge's problem. But she's wrong when she suggests that we haven't been part of the solution. The island has resisted short-range and short-sighted plans, but has supported with votes and tax dollars more long-range solutions.That's a story we all need to tell. "