BI delays decision on expanding Madison project

  • Thursday, September 23, 2021 10:50am
  • News

It seemed like a majority of the Bainbridge Island City Council was interested in putting its money where its mouth is regarding sustainable transportation.

The council was also interested in saving $500,000 and causing fewer public disruptions. However, in the end, they decided to talk more about it later.

At Tuesday night’s meeting on Zoom, the council discussed the Madison Avenue Sidewalk Project. Part of the project already has been approved by the council at a cost of $2.75 million. However, city staff noted that three projects planned in the future could be combined into one at a cost of from $4.2 million to $5.2 million.

City staff requested an extension of a federal grant to expand the scope of the Madison project, which would include separated bike lanes, traffic calming, roadway construction and sewer improvements from Winslow Way to Highway 305.

Staff said doing it all at once would create efficiencies in planning, construction, etc., that could save $500,000. Rather than disrupting public access three times, it could be done once. And it would accomplish one of the island’s sustainable transportation goals of a nonmotorized focus in the Winslow area.

“It makes a ton of sense to me,” Councilmember Joe Deets said, adding it would have a huge effect on the climate, along with value for the elderly, students and bicyclists. Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said she would be more likely to use a bicycle for transportation with the improved safety features. Mayor Rasham Nassar said it would enhance what’s already there and create an epicenter for sustainable transportation.

Councilmember Leslie Schneider was probably the biggest supporter. “It doesn’t feel good going up and down Madison with the existing infrastructure,” she said, adding there are a lot of schools in the area and the corridor is central for kids.

Schneider said it would build out the core that is central to the sustainable transportation network, thereby reducing the city’s carbon footprint. And, if the work isn’t done now, new sidewalks will be ripped up to do those future projects.

But Councilmember Michael Pollock said he would like more information. He wants projects to be looked at with a “climate change lens” and less concrete.

Christy Carr was the councilmember most opposed to the idea. She said there wasn’t enough data to warrant spending $2.4 million more on expanding the project. She doesn’t believe, “If we build it they will come.”

Carr said this corridor already has many attributes other roads, such as nearby Grow, would love to have. She said she gets many emails from people who live on Grow who would love to see some improvements. She said she lived on Madison and used the corridor to get to City Hall and the ferry for years and had no problems.

In the end, the council decided to look at the issue again, asking city staff to “skinny down the contingency” so the price for the project would be closer to $4.2 million, city manager Blair King said.

In other news, the state Department of Transportation responded to previous council questions saying a noise barrier, though not warranted it says, could cost up to $240,000. It also said it would be willing to plant more mature trees in some locations that would limit noise and light impacts from the highway to neighbors along the road. There also will be a light shield and LED lights to help in that effort. It also said a mature tree the council is concerned about is worth $20,000.

The council also:

•Approved a 1/10th of 1% sales tax increase to benefit affordable housing. It is expected to bring in $450,000 a year. If Kitsap County imposes the tax, the city would not be able to.

•Rejected bids for intersection improvements at the Sportsman Club-New Brooklyn intersection because they were too expensive.

•Accepted $15,000 from the Suquamish Tribe for impacts from its gaming operation.

•Decided to apply for two $100,000 Ecology grants – one for mapping sea level rising and another for aquaculture.

In public comments:

Sal DeRosalia said he was glad that the city is again providing COVID-19 testing, but that more is needed. He said he had to quarantine for many days because it’s only done Mondays, and it takes a while to get results. He said 152 people tested that day, which shows the need. He added the Kitsap Public Health District would be able to help provide more. It was later mentioned that COVID vaccines are available Mondays in BI, Thursdays in Poulsbo and other days of the week at other locations around the county.

Barbara Trafton, projects director with the Bainbridge Parks Foundation, encouraged the city to join them in fighting noxious weeds not controlled by the county, such as ivy, holly and scotch broom. She said the foundation wants to be “better stewards of public land,” and the city should, too. “Weeds couldn’t care less about property lines,” she said, adding they lead to wildfire risks and are a “stress on the ecosystem. “

Another caller asked the city to oppose Route E of Puget Sound Energy’s “missing link” transmission line from Winslow to Murden Cove. She said there are shorter routes that would cause fewer impacts. But the biggest reason is equity. She said people who live on that route are more racially diverse and include more seniors and lower-income residents.

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