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Possible widening of SK artery concerns resident

The Washington State Department of Transportation is currently weighing its options for easing congestion on the narrow link between the Key Peninsula and Kitsap County.

Currently, drivers on State-Route 302 from the south are connected to State-Route 16 by crossing the Purdy Bridge, which spans the strait between Henderson Bay and Burley Lagoon in Pierce County.

However, the bridge was built in 1936 and is showing its age. It’s condition has degraded and traffic levels have increased beyond its capacity, but officials can not easily upgrade the existing bridge.

Since it is registered as a national historic place, federal requirements must be met before removing or improving it.

As an alternative to the bridge, WSDOT officials identified several other routes that could be created to carry traffic from SR-302 to SR-16.

Already, those alternatives have been narrowed down to four alternatives which the WSDOT is collecting public comments on until Friday.

• Alternative No. 4 shifts traffic to the west along 144th Avenue in Pierce County and puts a new bridge over the water.

• Alternative No. 6 shifts traffic northeast to Pine Road in South Kitsap, then loops around to SR-16.

• Alternative No. 7 follows existing roads — 118th Avenue in Pierce County to Pine Road in Kitsap — and meets up with SR-16.

• Alternative No. 10, which officials note they added recently based on public comments, shifts traffic along existing roads and adds a new bridge near 154th Avenue in Pierce County that would connect to SR-16.

Port Orchard resident Warren Johnson, who lives on Pine Road, strongly favors this approach, as he said it would have the least amount of impact on the area.

The alternative that worries him the most, however, is No. 6, which Johnson said would turn Pine Road into a four-lane highway.

“The whole thing doesn’t make sense,” he said, explaining that widening the road would take way property from him and his neighbors, adversely affect the fire district’s ability to serve the area, and make it nearly impossible for him to get in and out of his property.

“The only way this plan make sense is if you’re looking at it on a flat map in Olympia,” he said, explaining that he had no idea that the state was planning on routing the traffic through Kitsap County until he and his son, Chuck Johnson, noticed a flyer in their newspaper box last week.

“It was the best-kept secret in town,” he said.

After finding the flyer, Johnson and his won, who lives on the same property, wrote to John Donahue, manager of the project for the WSDOT, to voice their concerns about the alternative that would transform Pine Road.

Johnson doesn’t disagree that an alternative to the bridge needs to be built, describing the existing bridge as dangerously narrow and a bottleneck. However, he believes building one parallel to the older one would be cheaper and less detrimental to the area that most of the alternatives the WSDOT is considering.

“This is a Pierce County debacle that they want to push over to Kitsap County,” he said. “This ought to be brought to the public.”

The WSDOT is collecting comments on the alternatives until Friday, Feb. 13.

Comments can be sent via e-mail to donahjo@wsdot.wa.gov, via fax to 360-357-2748, or by calling 360-357-2788.

The project is officially called “SR 302 Corridor Study, Elgin-Clifton Road to SR-16.”

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