Both skeptics and interested parties alike lined up outside the doors of the Key Peninsula Civic Center for a Washington State Department of Transportation SR 302 Corridor Study Scoping Open House on Jan. 12. The meeting drew around 200 people over the course of the evening, with about 50 people lined up when the doors opened.

A series of public meetings held last year helped narrow the options to “four build alternatives” that will be included in an environmental impact study. “We have eliminated two alternatives over the course of the past few months based on studies and a screening process for environmental impact, feasibility and how well they will work,” John Donahue, WSDOT project manager, said. According to Donahue, there are no favorite alternatives at this point. “Every alternative going forward is on equal footing.”

However, a contingent opposed to any new alignment alternative that would cross the Burley Lagoon to SR 16 disagreed and lined up early to express their dissatisfaction. Some had hoped, in particular, to have Alternative 4 that would follow 144th Avenue eliminated based on its high cost; however, Dave Skinner of the study team told one Burley residents, “They won’t just allow us to look at cost. We also have to look at the environment.”

Some attendees also questioned the need for further study and public meetings. “Considering how long ago this study began, I don’t know if any of us will see it in our lifetime,” said Jim Hunter of Burley. “Most of us won’t live long enough to see it built.” According to the SR 302 Corridor Study Schedule and Process, no final decision will be made on an alternative until “2010 and beyond.”

Another unanswered question revolves around the Purdy Bridge. “We really don’t know what will happen,” Skinner said. “There has been absolutely nothing decided. It could move, stay where it is or become a pedestrian bridge.”

The bridge, built in 1936, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It has impacted us for a couple reasons,” he said. “If we were to replace it, we would impact a historical bridge, but it’s not a deal breaker to take it out. We could use the existing architecture or do something with the piers to make it look like the old one.”

While Skinner compared the situation to the building of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in that case the old bridge was maintained and the new bridge was built in line with the existing architecture.

Skinner said similar construction resulting in two bridges each with one-way traffic is not feasible for the Purdy Bridge, due to the “big safety problem with the Wauna curves and access to driveways.”

WSDOT is particularly interested in comments on the purpose and need for the project and the range of alternatives that will be evaluated. “We’re trying to solicit formal written comments to become part of the written report,” Donahue said. “It is important the comments come in writing by the Feb.13, 2009, deadline to be included.”

The official National Environmental Policy Act and State Environmental Policy Act scoping period began Jan. 2 and ends Feb. 13. Key Pen residents and businesses are encouraged to submit their comments to John Donahue by phone at 360-357-2788, by email to donahjo@nullwsdot.wa.gov or by fax at 360-357-2748.

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