Olympic Drive improvement project beginning soon

Work being done on Olympic Drive (the street between the Winslow ferry terminal and the intersection of Winslow Way and Highway 305) as part of a safety improvement project will soon temporarily alter the usual commuter patterns for pedestrians and drivers alike.

The project is designed to improve safety and increase the efficiency of loading and unloading ferry riders.

The Seattle-Bainbridge ferry route carries an average of 18,000 riders a day.

When complete, the new layout will result in separated lanes for bicyclists, vehicles, and pedestrians along Olympic Drive from the intersection of Winslow Way and Highway 305 to Harborview Drive.

Ultimately, city officials said, pedestrians will experience a safer commute with wider sidewalks to better accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, and to keep people out of the street. There will be lanes for bicyclists only and “bike boxes” at intersections to separate bicycles from motor vehicles. Olympic Drive will also be widened to separate cars and motorcycles from bicyclists.

Currently, when bicyclists unload from the ferry, they mix with cars and motorcycles, with some bicyclists choosing to ride on the sidewalk.

Construction is expected to begin Monday, April 15.

“At times this work will require some lane closures,” said city spokeswoman Kristen Drew. “During the morning and afternoon peak hours and weekends, however, traffic lanes will remain open to minimize the impact on ferry commuters who travel by car.”

It is anticipated the project will be complete sometime in August.

The impact to commuters is expected to be minimal, officials said.

Tips for pedestrians: During the initial phases of construction, the sidewalk on the west side of Olympic Drive (near Waypoint Park) will be closed. As the work progresses, it is anticipated that sidewalks on both sides of Olympic Drive will need to close for short durations.

For drivers: During peak hours expect some delays, but no lane closures.

City officials recommend commuters sign up to receive updates about the project and construction impacts through Nixle, a free service generally used for emergency notifications but which, due to the amount of ferry users, will be used to inform people of construction impacts, and/or Notify Me, a similar and likewise free service that allows people to subscribe to topics of interest for updates by email or text.

Information about both programs can be found at the city’s website: www.bain bridgewa.gov.

The latest updates about the project will be made available at www.bainbridgewa.gov/505/Olympic-Drive-Non-Motorized-Improvements.

Businesses along Olympic Drive will remain open during construction. City staff will begin project outreach on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 10 on the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry route. A table (near the galley) will be set up with information materials, and more outreach activities are scheduled throughout the month.

Specific questions or concerns should be directed to the city’s Public Works department at 206-842-2016 or pwadmin@bainbridgewa.gov.