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"County, state planners study State Route 303"
"With a multitude of non-synchronized stop lights and several speed limit changes between the Bremerton ferry terminal and the Ridgetop Boulevard exit into Silverdale, motorists are saying traffic along State Route 303 is becoming increasingly congested.The wait time - the standard by which traffic is gauged - increases for those trying to turn left from the turn lanes into the many shopping centers along the corridor. Accident studies show the areas where the turns are least successful.State and county efforts will converge on State Route 303 during the next few years to improve on and off ramps, add access and climbing lanes and improve congestion through the corridor.State Department of Transportation and county officials presented the status of existing conditions along the 303 corridor, including peripheral areas and sections of State Route 3, to a panel of citizen stakeholders convened Aug. 17 at the Kitsap Regional Library, a green arrow turn off 303 onto Sylvan Way.The meeting was one of a series of ongoing examinations of the 303 corridor. The next public forum is scheduled for 6-8:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Olympic College's Bremer Student Center. Planners will discuss proposed safety improvements between Dawn Road and State Route 3.While the state Department of Transportation works on improving SR303 entrance and exit ramps, county efforts will focus on improvements along Bucklin Hill Road, Tracyton Boulevard, Illahee Road, Silverdale Way and Newberry Hill Road.County Public Works currently is replacing culverts at Barker Creek Road and Nels Nelson Road.Though road improvement projects are planned, Department of Community Development planner Eric Baker said they are prioritized behind more pressing projects. The current projects are fish-friendly projects, he said.A significant number of wetlands, as well as zoning guidelines, also dictate where and how soon the county will begin road improvements.But future county plans do include improvements to the north-south roadway, Baker said. With a projected population growth of as much as 3.2 percent annually, county planners potentially are looking at 8,000 additional cars on the roads during the next 15 years.While the south side of 303 is already stop and go, with 13 lights and several speed limit changes, Baker said traveling improves as motorists get farther north. Stops get farther and farther apart ... it keeps motorists from having to slow down every 100-150 feet, he said.Daily traffic volumes from Riddell Road to the SR303/3 interchange decrease from 33,700 to 18,289 as motorists move north.A Public Works study identified the stretch of SR303 from Silverdale Way almost to Fairgrounds Road as a high accident corridor, a one mile or longer stretch of highway with a five-year history of greater-than-average accidents.Without improvements, the projected influx of people would increase congestion from today's open lanes to moderate congestion to heavily clogged roads with little room to change lanes and halting acceleration. Other county projects slated for Central Kitsap roadways include widening, paving the shoulders and resurfacing Illahee Road from Stone Way to the Brownsville Highway.Tracyton Boulevard is scheduled for shoulder widening and drainage improvements from Allens Corner to Holland Road, and Bucklin Hill Road from Blaine Avenue to Tracyton is slated for new lanes and a bridge at Clear Creek.State projects include paving and construction on Riddell Road, design and construction of an acceleration lane at Central Valley Road and a signal, acceleration lanes, widening and access control at Dawn Road.Ramps at Ridgetop Boulevard are destined for improvement, with a northbound off-ramp, signals and channeling design and construction funded for 1999-2001. Southbound on-ramp signalization has been slated for 2001-03.Citizen study groups identified Waaga Way as the road most in need of improvement, with better lane access and improved intersections at Ridgetop Boulevard and Central Valley, Nels Nelson, Old Military and Bucklin Hill roads.The off-ramp at Ridgetop and the on-ramp at Central Valley were identified in the study as high accident locations, or spots with a two-year history of accident rates above the statewide average for similar highways.The groups included in their visions for the SR303 corridor acceleration lanes on restricted access sections of Nels Nelson, Bucklin Hill and Central Valley roads and Waaga Way. "