Harper residents give county options for road project

Kitsap County is still trying to widen this section of Southworth Drive in Harper, which offers no space for walkers or bicyclists. - POI File Photo
Kitsap County is still trying to widen this section of Southworth Drive in Harper, which offers no space for walkers or bicyclists.
— image credit: POI File Photo

A group of Harper residents opposed to a county project that would widen a small section of Southworth Drive met asked the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners Monday to reconsider the project.

“We want them to change the design and do more to prevent the stormwater from reaching (Puget Sound) and more to improve pedestrian and bike safety,” said Rebbecca McCoy, who lives on one of 17 plots of land that the county must cut into to add shoulders to the narrow road, which hugs the shore with no room to spare for bicyclists or pedestrians.

In 2005, the county’s Public Works Department mapped out plans to widen the road by at least 10 feet to create 11-foot traffic lanes and four-foot shoulders on each side that can be used by both bicyclists and walkers.

Early on, however, residents of the road, who called themselves the Harper 17, objecting to the county’s plan, saying it would only increase traffic and pollution.

“The county is going to ruin the road,” McCoy said. “This is a really bad plan for anyone that is not a commuter.”

McCoy said the shoulders do not have to be made of asphalt, and residents on the road would like options such as pervious concrete to be considered for the project.

“We would like the county to step up and make Southworth Drive a model, and maybe this project could set a precedent for other sections of the Mosquito Fleet Trail that need to be widened,” she said.

Since 2005, the project has been delayed by numerous objections, including McCoy’s arguments that it should not receive Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit(SDP/CUP) from the state.

“We want people to know that the residents of Southworth Drive want a safe place for people to walk and ride their bikes, (but we also) want the environment protected,” McCoy said. “We want the county to acknowledge they made a mistake, and to go back and start working on something that conforms to the law and respects the environment.”

McCoy said that the commissioners “seemed interested” in the ideas that she and the other residents presented Monday, but she was not sure they would “allow the project to change because that would mean starting from scratch with permits.”

As it stands now, McCoy said that the project will proceed unless the commissioners decide otherwise.

South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said the residents had requested a meeting with her and she invited them to come speak with the board Monday.

“I felt like it was important for the other commissioners to hear their concerns,” Garrido said, explaining that she hoped to be able to address some of the group’s concerns, but “it’s really late in the process.”

If there are changes made, she said they “probably won’t be huge changes, but some pragmatic changes.”

Garrido said she will be meeting with staff this week to follow up on some of the group’s suggestions, and would be bringing the information back to the board.

She said work is scheduled to begin on the project this summer, and she agreed that this project should be a “model” for future work on shoreline roads in the county.

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