Washington State Department of Transportation has narrowed the locations where the new SR302 will join SR 16 down to three possibilities: 144th Street with a bridge across the lagoon, 154th Street with a bridge across the lagoon, and the land-based Pine/Spruce option connecting south of Burley.
A coalition of residents strenuously objects to SR302 crossing the Burley Lagoon, and a 2005 study done by the Key Peninsula Business Association has surfaced lately as another possibility.
BURLEY LAGOON COALITION
About 70 members of the recently formed Burley Lagoon Coalition met with John Donahue, the WSDOT project manager, on Jan. 24 to voice their objection to constructing a bridge for SR302 across the Burley Lagoon. Very few remained quiet when words of disfavor were voiced.
John Doucett, a Wauna resident, was particularly vocal.
“If you choose one of the options to cross the Lagoon, then I will do whatever I have to do to stop the process,” Doucett said. “Crossing the Lagoon would destroy protected habitat for Chinook Salmon. It would affect Grey Whales, seals, clams, and oysters. It would disrupt habitat for Blue Heron.”
Doucett further described how the elevation change from 300 ft on the Wauna side to sea level on the Purdy side, in conjunction with cold winter winds under the exposed bridge would create an extremely dangerous situation with vehicles unable to climb the steep icy roadway headed west, and would slide down the slippery grade to massive pileups at a stop light at Purdy Drive.
“Traffic noise would be transmitted quite far from this open bridge, changing this very tranquil neighborhood into an extremely loud and undesirable one with plummeting property values,” Doucett said. “Under such conditions, it would be less desirable to continue living in this environment than to be forced to sell and move away due to a condemnation action.”
Ursula Corey, another Wauna resident, stated, “I have been so disturbed by how this will affect us, that I have been unable to sleep for the past week.”
Coalition members praised Donahue for a difficult job. Coalition leader Murray Payne said, “You (Donahue) did a great job gathering all the information available to include in your final report.”
Donahue said the public input phase is important to the project, however what lies ahead for the project is yet to be seen.
“We are in the ‘scoping’ phase of the project where all possible input is gathered, especially public comment,” said Donahue. “We cannot design a new road that affects nobody. Whenever a new option is added or taken away, a new group three times the size then comes screaming at me.
“The environmental and engineering studies will not happen until after we obtain more funding later this year. Problems yet to be identified could very likely significantly alter the options that appear best today.”
The $100 million cost for a lagoon-crossing bridge option compared to the $50 million cost for a northern route without a bridge are among the many factors that may influence the final decision.
Shortly after meeting with the Burley Lagoon Coalition, Donahue met with the South Kitsap Improvement Club, which is just as concerned with disruption in the historic community of Burley if the Pine/Spruce option is chosen.
Shortly before the deadline for public comment expired on Feb. 13, Ed Taylor submitted to WSDOT another routing option that was developed by a committee that he chaired for the KP Business Association in 2005. The committee recognized that the elevation change was a critical concern and they carefully studied contour maps to develop a routing with the slightest possible grade change between Burley and where 94th Avenue meets the existing SR302.
Ed Taylor owns and manages the Westwynd Motel on 144th Street in Purdy, directly in the path of the 144th Street routing option.
Donahue commented, “Taylor’s submittal was one of several just received that we will study carefully. No suggestion will be ignored. We expect to continue with the process in July after the State Legislature approves additional funds.”