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Build garage, connect streets, consultant says

The map above shows the downtown area where the bulk of recommendations to improve downtown access and circulation are being made by transportation consultant Jim Charlier, including an overpass at SR-305 from Wyatt Way to Ferncliff. -
The map above shows the downtown area where the bulk of recommendations to improve downtown access and circulation are being made by transportation consultant Jim Charlier, including an overpass at SR-305 from Wyatt Way to Ferncliff.
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A transportation planner’s report details big ideas for downtown.

When there’s no place to park, there’s no where to go but up.

If traffic is bad, connect streets.

Those are the recommendations of transportation consultant Jim Charlier, who was slated to present his recommendations for improving downtown access and circulation at a Winslow Tomorrow meeting in City Hall Tuesday evening.

Charlier was unavailable for comment before the presentation. His draft report was based on a three-month study and guided by the priorities developed throughout the Winslow Tomorrow planning process.

Key recommendations to be presented include parking changes, connecting more streets and increased support for pedestrians and bicycles.

A parking structure – which Charlier’s report recommends, without suggesting a location – would prevent more of the downtown from being consumed for parking than the 41 percent that already is, and provide a way to fulfill parking requirements off-site.

A change in the current parking ordinance would allow businesses on smaller sites to fulfill up to 100 percent of parking requirements off-site, and reduce parking requirements for infill projects of less than 8,000 square feet, Charlier’s report said.

Establishing a greater variety of parking options will allow for 15-minute, two-hour and three-hour spaces. Also, while not losing any more storefront parking, more could be added on Madison Avenue between Parfitt and Wyatt, and by converting Bjune Drive’s parallel spaces to angle parking.

Increasing storefront parking is essential to the downtown’s economic health, Charlier said in a presentation in July.

“If stores can’t have storefront parking, you can’t have storefront retail,” he said at that time.

Eventually, employee parking could be moved to the parking structure, thus freeing up nearby streets, such as Bjune, for customers.

Hand-in-hand with parking options would be increased parking enforcements.

Charlier recommends increasing the number of enforcers and moving the responsibility from law officers to “parking ambassadors” under the management of a new parking district.

The district would be an agency of the city with a board of downtown property and business owners.

The agency’s paid staff would manage parking permits, enforce parking regulations and manage funds to make sure they work towards future parking supply needs.

Enforce­ment hours would be extended from the current 6 to 8 p.m. to take care of the worst problems caused by Mariners game-goers, who park at 4 p.m. and avoid enforcers.

A tiered parking fine system would punish parking scofflaws, but give gentle warnings to first-time offenders during a 90-day period.

To encourage people to park once and walk everywhere, Charlier recommends tightening up the walking grid with crosswalks every 330 feet on busy streets and implementing a new Pedestrian Corridor Preservation Plan, which would acquire and protect existing, important pedestrian corridors, while also requiring redevelopment and infill projects to preserve high-priority pedestrian corridors.

Connectivity

In areas where circulation and access are of concern, Charlier recommends increasing connectivity rather than widening lanes.

He adds two new street classifications: “low commercial” to carry low speed travel for short distances to improve circulation within a commercial district; and “connector” to carry low speed travel between arterial and parallel connector streets.

The report recommends two street connections to improve traffic continuity: opening Hildebrand and Ericksen, and putting in an overpass at SR-305 to connect Wyatt Way to Ferncliff Avenue.

In the past, the city’s Department of Public Works and the fire department have supported a Hildebrand-Ericksen connection, but the move has been opposed by the City Council.

Charlier also calls for connecting Wyatt Way to Ferncliff via an overpass at SR-305 for cars and bicycles, and states explicitly “Do not connect to SR-305.”

The plan envisions Kitsap Transit incorporating the new connection in its routes with access to the ferry terminal area. There are also specific recommendations for a better connection between downtown and the ferry terminal district, such as a pedestrian corridor to Eagle Harbor from north of Winslow Way via Town and Country.

To manage traffic, Charlier makes several recommendations for Winslow Way, including eliminating the center “lane” used by delivery vans — providing alleys for unloading — to allow widening of sidewalks and creating pedestrian zones.

Other incentives such as more park-and-ride facilities, requiring one bicycle parking per five on-street auto spaces and adding carpool-use spaces encourage alternative transportation modes.

After last evening’s presentations, Charlier will present a package of policy recommendations to the City Council in October.

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