The Key Peninsula Community Planning Board began exploring the transportation element of the KP community plan to a full house at Key Peninsula Middle School the evening of Jan. 18.

Mike Kruger, Planning and Land Services advance planner, announced that Mike Galizio, a transportation planner with Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, will lead the transportation meetings, which will continue every other Wednesday through the end of March. A guest speaker at each meeting will address specific transportation-related topics, beginning with the Feb. 1 session, focusing on Pierce Transit challenges on the peninsula.

While discussing numerous handouts, including articles, regulations, charts, and maps, Galizio repeatedly stressed that the bulk of transportation projects are intended to occur over a 20-year period. He also cautioned those present that Pierce County has a 20-year backlog and a $650 million shortfall in identified transportation projects, with no revenue to cover them unless additional funding sources, such as traffic impact fees, are realized.

In all, 63 motorized and nonmotorized transportation-related project recommendations identified through the KP planning process are up for discussion, revision and/or elimination. Some of those projects involve creation of trails, which may fall within the parks and recreation element that will be discussed later.

In addition to resident-based recommendations, eight Pierce County Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) projects are scheduled on the Key Peninsula. The first was the installation of the traffic light at Elgin-Clifton and State Route 302, which became operational in January. Galizio is looking into a question regarding implementation of both a turn lane and signal, as provided for in the TIP. The other seven projects, five of which are bridge or culvert replacements, are scheduled to occur by 2009.

Planning board members voiced specific areas of transportation-related concerns during the brainstorming segment of the meeting. Member Matt Halvorsen spoke about the need to make the business district of Key Center “pedestrian-friendly,” noting that the ability to navigate shops and businesses only adds to the economic and aesthetic gain of the area.

“Some solutions used elsewhere do not apply here on the peninsula,” said Chuck West, another board member. “(We have) a greater priority for wider shoulders on 302, lighting at intersections, sidewalks and crosswalks in Key Center… a priority for safe pedestrian walkways to schools, parks, business areas.” He noted it is impossible to walk from his house to Key Center along the highway, and that several major intersections lack visibility for fire trucks and other large vehicles.

An audience participant asked about increased traffic from the NASCAR track being proposed in Kitsap County. Councilman Terry Lee, present in the audience, responded that it still had to go through the state environmental process. He suggested keeping an eye on the short session of the Legislature. “Whether they’ll get behind (the project) is doubtful,” he said.

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