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County to slow down Mile Hill, Harper drivers

The Kitsap County commissioners will be soliciting public comment at their next board meeting on two proposed ordinances that would lower the speed limit on both a substantial portion of Mile Hill Drive and a very small section of Southworth Drive in South Kitsap.

On Aug. 22, concerned residents are invited to address the commissioners regarding lowering the speed limit five miles to 45 mph on practically the entire stretch of Mile Hill Drive — starting from the Port Orchard city limits near Jackson Avenue and continuing until Colchester Drive in Manchester.

According to Traffic Investigator Steve Johnson, the Public Works Department is recommending this reduction in speed both because of the frequency of accidents on that well-traveled arterial, but also to prepare for two new stoplights.

“We will be installing traffic lights at Long Lake Road and California Avenue,” Johnson said, explaining that since the traffic on Mile Hill will no longer be “free-flowing,” the lower speed limit will help drivers prepare to stop and start more easily.

Johnson said Public Works is also recommending the speed limit be lowered by five miles to 35 mph on a quarter-mile section of Southworth Drive between the Harper Public Fishing Pier and Olympiad Drive in Harper.

Residents along that winding, beach-hugging stretch of road have lobbied for a lower speed limit and a walking path near their homes for years, and have most recently been fighting the county’s efforts to widen the street and add a multi-use bicycle/walking lane.

After a few tense public meetings however, South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said the county was moving forward with the widening project, but she would continue to explore the possibility of lowering the speed limit.

“That is something I feel I can do, and I want to talk about the possibility,” she said, explaining that she understood that the road’s classification as a “minor urban arterial” precluded lowering the speed limit by much, but “I have to see what kind of leeway we have there.”

Johnson said he expected the commissioners to approve both ordinances.

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