Opinion

Rockaway Beach Road’s future in serious jeopardy | Opinion | July 23

Help is on the way, perhaps, but will it arrive soon enough? That’s the situation at the north end of Rockaway Beach Road on the southern edge of Bill Point, where wave-caused erosion has cut deep into the bluff and threatens the road’s stability.

Bainbridge Island now has a grant of $200,000 – plus matching city funds of $27,000 – that will be used, at least in part, to hire a design consultant to figure out how to save the road before a tragedy occurs. Residents of the area have been seeking action for several years now, but the city – for one reason or another – has been slow to come up with a solution.

The road has already received a band-aid repair job, but the undercutting of the embankment upon which it sits continues to erode. Neighbor Albert Greiner estimates that at least 15 feet of the bluff has been lost during the last six years, and there’s nothing stopping its continued disintegration.

Project manager Chris Hammer thinks the city should use a combination of a mechanically reinforced earth wall upland and a soft shore mitigated approach at the shoreline. The property has bulkheads on both sides of it, and Greiner believes building another out away from the base of the cliff isn’t the answer because wave action would continue to undercut the embankment. Construction of a bridge has also been suggested, but then dismissed when the cost was estimated at $2 million.

With winter storms looming a few months from now, Greiner and several council members have suggested to staff that it might be wise to spend some of the design funding, if possible, on some emergency solutions until construction could begin – hopefully next summer. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council has ranked the stabilization project No. 1 in line for transportation funding ($900,000), so help appears on the way.

It was encouraging that the City Council indicated Wednesday night that it understood the city has an imminent emergency on its hands. Hopefully action will occur before it disappears.

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