Grow Avenue getting bike/ped pathway

Council wants to keep some roadside parking

The Bainbridge City Council approved a design plan for Grow Avenue pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements Wednesday, despite reservations about parking restrictions and funding sources.

The $1.2 million project would build a seven to 10-foot wide bike and foot path separated from the east side of the avenue by a landscaped strip. The project would retain or add native plants, large trees and enhance existing drainage courses.

After tabling the motion last week until the city Department of Public Works fleshed out the plan’s details, the council on Wednesday again balked at portions of the design.

The council opted to remove wording in the plan calling for the elimination or restriction of parking on the avenue.

Instead, the council inserted references to a “parking management plan” that has yet to be defined.

“To have no parking on Grow treats Grow as an island unto itself,” said Councilman Nezam Tooloee.

Other councilors said road-side parking often slows traffic, thereby increasing safety in the area. Allowing parking would also eliminate the need for some planned traffic calming elements.

Some councilors wrangled over whether funds earmarked for non-motorized transportation improvements would pay for landscape and drainage projects and asked to again delay approval.

The council carried through with the motion after Public Works Director Randy Witt said that the project will happen on a piece-by-piece basis, with plenty of opportunities for the council to shepherd the process.

“We were expecting your guidance on this,” he said to the council. “Your passing the framework doesn’t mean it all has to be done.”

Witt expects to finish designing Grow’s improvements this year with construction starting before 2007.

Grow was identified as a priority in the city’s Non-Motorized Transportation Plan. The mayor-appointed Non-Motorized Transportation Committee gathered comments from more than 150 people and conducted three workshops on Grow Avenue improvement designs.

Neighbors have called for improvements on the street for several years, citing problems with speeders heading toward the ferry terminal. Several residents used a police department radar gun to document the problem and raise community awareness.

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