A bike/ped bridge offers a safe alternative

You may recall a few years ago when an organization called LINK was in the news quite a bit. No? Then you don’t live at Point White. The ad hoc citizen group from points west made waves with a proposal that didn’t sit too well with island folk; the group wanted to improve cross-sound transportation by joining Central Kitsap with downtown Seattle, by way of south Bainbridge. Specifically, LINK (which stood for “Local Infrastructure for North Kitsap”) tried to rally support for an automobile bridge between Illahee in Central Kitsap and Point White on Bainbridge Island. From there, motorists would whisk along a new, limited-access arterial to Blakely Harbor, where they would board a waiting ferry and jet off to Colman Dock.

  • Wednesday, February 7, 2007 2:00pm
  • Opinion

You may recall a few years ago when an organization called LINK was in the news quite a bit.

No? Then you don’t live at Point White.

The ad hoc citizen group from points west made waves with a proposal that didn’t sit too well with island folk; the group wanted to improve cross-sound transportation by joining Central Kitsap with downtown Seattle, by way of south Bainbridge.

Specifically, LINK (which stood for “Local Infrastructure for North Kitsap”) tried to rally support for an automobile bridge between Illahee in Central Kitsap and Point White on Bainbridge Island. From there, motorists would whisk along a new, limited-access arterial to Blakely Harbor, where they would board a waiting ferry and jet off to Colman Dock.

Never mind the value of the real estate at the Bainbridge end of the proposed bridge – or the number of attorneys living there – or the fact that the site of the new ferry terminal, Blakely Harbor, is currently a public park. Mere trifles! Nothing that some public interest and political will couldn’t overcome…except that neither the public interest nor the political will materialized, and LINK slunk back to the drawing board. Still, while their goals were of dubious practical merit, their logic was unassailable: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that straight line ran across Bainbridge.

You can hear echoes of the LINK brainstorm in the nascent discussion of putting some sort of bridge across State Route 305 near the Winslow ferry terminal, in the vicinity of Cave Avenue. The route could act as a shortcut – just as LINK hoped to bypass the circuitous route from Central Kitsap to Seattle – for transit and other traffic coming to and from the terminal. Colinear is the notion that local traffic is better managed by breaking it up amongst many smaller streets instead of channeling it to two or three big ones. (The latter is among the reasons Ericksen and Hildebrand will presumably someday be connected; it just makes sense.)

The reaction of Cave Avenue neighborhood to even hypothetical discussions of such a bridge abutting their street are both predictable and understandable. As reported on today’s front page, neighbors and nearby businesses fear the impact on their idyll should a major thru-way begin channeling ferry traffic to and fro amongst their homes. Given the political difficulty of pushing such a connection through to completion – witness Ericksen/Hildebrand – planners might adjust their tack a bit and consider an alternative: a pedestrian/bicycle bridge.

Such an overpass has been discussed for some time, to bridge the busy highway that divides Ericksen from the Ferncliff and thus much of Winslow. While not offering an answer to terminal-zone car and bus traffic (which we concede will only grow with time), it would be a huge boon to the neighborhoods themselves, a quick and safe means for eastside residents getting to and from downtown. It might even be, dare we say, welcomed?

The shortest distance between two points is still a straight line, and downtown Winslow could use another one running east-west. A modest place to start might be a non-motorized, yes, link.

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