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Federal grants fill local coffers

Leftovers in the refrigerator may not be too exciting. But leftovers in the budget can come as a happy surprise to cash-strapped local agencies.

Both the city of Bainbridge Island and Kitsap Transit were on the receiving end of such surprises last week, getting a total of over half a million in “leftover” federal money from the Puget Sound Regional Council, the agency that prioritizes regional projects for federal grant funds.

“Over the years, we have funded a lot of projects, and some are completed for less money,” said PSRC communications director Rick Olson. “It added up.”

The city got $148,000 for the work on High School Road between Madison Avenue and Sportsman Club Road that was completed last summer.

Public Works Director Randy Witt said it was money that the city had been promised, but came sooner than expected.

“The city had secured funding for this project, but after 695 was passed (the initiative that repealed the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax), money got stretched out. We got most of the money for the High School Road project, but had to loan ourselves the rest.”

The earlier payback of money that had been expected in 2004 means the city may be able to move up funding for other projects.

High on the list would be the work planned for this summer along Ericksen Avenue, which Witt said is the only current project that has received federal money.

The $422,000 allotted to Kitsap Transit will help that agency plan to take over passenger-only ferry service, if Washington State Ferries goes ahead with its announced plan to phase out that operation this year.

According to Olson, the money will go for conceptual designs to certain infrastructure that Kitsap Transit plans to utilize.

That list, Olson said, includes Pier 48 in Seattle, which is envisioned as a passenger-only terminal, the float at the Bremerton terminal used by the POF vessels, and terminal redesign at Port Orchard and Southworth.

Kitsap Transit also envisions using the money for conceptual-level work on a POF loading and unloading facility at Kingston, to begin high-speed service from Kingston directly to downtown Seattle.

Finally, the Kitsap Transit money will allow for preliminary designs of the 150-passenger boats that Kitsap Transit plans to use, to replace the 350-passenger boats presently in service.

Kitsap Transit wants to use the smaller boats to reduce the wakes in Rich Passage, which would allow the smaller boats to run faster.

More boats would be used, increasing the number of passengers that could be carried.

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