Being direct is how BI council likes STO path

When it comes to the Sound to Olympics Trail, being direct is the best course of action.

That’s what the Bainbridge Island City Council seemed to favor at its meeting March 26. BI city engineer Peter Corelis asked councilmembers to weigh in on the topic.

He talked about the next section to be done through Sakai Park. A poll with 113 people responding says 64% favor a more direct route along the toe of the Highway 305 embankment east of the pond. The other 36% favor the trail through the middle of the park west of the pond. The preferred Alternative 1 would cost $7.8 million, compared with $16.2 million for Alternative 2.

The BI Metro Parks & Recreation District board also favors Alternative 1. Wetlands, easements and a longer boardwalk were issues with the second alternative. The first alternative also would have a raised boardwalk and is at the edge of the wetlands boundary. Being closer to the highway would mean fewer trees being removed, but a desire for a visual buffer between the trail and the highway also was preferred.

The entire 40-mile STO Trail will connect Winslow to the Olympic Discovery Trail in Jefferson County and is part of the Great American Rail Trail, a 3,700-mile cross-country route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The STO Trail will generally follow Highway 305 from the ferry terminal 6.6 miles to the Agate Pass Bridge. BI has built about 1.1 miles to Sakai Park.

The BI part of the trail was looked at either near the highway for Alternative 1 or using existing trails, roads and north-south corridors for Alternative 2. The chosen paths require the least amount of right-of-way acquisition, least maintenance, least critical areas, lowest cost, direct route, most accessibility, desirable locations and minimize tree impacts.

Regarding the entire BI part of the trail, the poll says 78% prefer it to be along Highway 305, as many would use it since it’s the most direct route. About 80% said they would use it for recreation, with the other 20% using it to commute. To reach a specific destination is their No. 1 priority, followed by aesthetics, access and the environment, and then comes cost.

Corellis said the parks board does like Alternative 2 in a few spots, for various reasons. Those are the Hidden Cove and Meigs Park segments. The entire path would be on the west side of the highway.

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said she likes the direct path because that’s better for commuters. Councilmember Clarence Moriwaki agreed. He also didn’t like the other option because of all the hills. “I wouldn’t do that. It’s no fun to do that stuff. That’s just crazy. As a rider that would be a nightmare to ride.”

Segments of the STO Trail route.
Segments of the STO Trail route.

Segments of the STO Trail route. Segments of the STO Trail route.