County proposes median islands for Tracyton Boulevard

"Kitsap County's Department of Public Works and a group of north Tracyton Boulevard residents have settled on a plan to slow traffic on the busy residential road.Median islands, landscaped with trees and shrubbery and dotted with signs welcoming drivers to the community, will be installed to break up the long straight stretches of Tracyton between Bucklin Hill and Fairgrounds roads. The raised medians will force drivers to curve gently around the obstruction, and slow speeders by breaking their lines of sight.And as an added bonus, according to Monty Mahan of the county Department of Public Works, they won't cost Kitsap taxpayers much.Mahan has secured a $295,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation's Hazard Elimination Program. The total cost to the county, including already-completed preliminary work, design, construction and relocating a handful of utility poles, will be about $100,000.And it'll happen quickly. Work is expected to begin this summer, with the new, improved road expected to be ready by fall.When you eliminate funding issues, your project becomes much more popular, said Mahan, adding that the Tracyton project is the first of its kind to receive financing from the state safety fund. They do these grants on a cost-benefit analysis and they found that for the benefit this project should bring, this was a very low cost.Nine medians will be spread over the 1.5 mile stretch of road. Mahan said a community group with which he worked on the project also considered other options, including traffic circles, but the island medians were considered a better option.What I wanted most was a lowering of the speed limit and narrowing of the road, said Sharon Schneidler, a Tracyton Boulevard resident who participated in the process. From what we've been told, (the medians) are beneficial as far as getting people to slow down. If it works, that's all I care about.Tracyton residents had complained about being afraid to cross the street, for fear of being run over by speeding vehicles using the road as a thoroughfare between Silverdale and Bremerton. Several said traffic accidents on the road have ended up in their front yards, while others worried about reckless passing on the narrow, curvy parts of the boulevard.Along with forcing course changes to avoid the medians, Mahan said the aesthetics of devices will slow drivers.The community groups wanted something that let people know they were in a community, Mahan said. They wanted some landscaping, but not something that required a whole lot of maintenance. And they wanted some trees.Rob Schneidler, who participated on the citizen-based design review committee that helped DPW come up with the plan, was pleased with the plan.We don't think people who are passing through the community should be denied that, he said. We just think they should be careful, and this traffic calming device will accomplish that.Tracyton Boulevard property won't have to give up any land to provide new rights-of-way, since the county already owns all the property it needs for the fix. The road will be 60 feet wide at Fairgrounds, and taper to 35 feet near Bucklin Hill. That will be tight, Mahan said, but sufficient.Plus, Rob Schneidler said, the county has agreed to restripe Tracyton in order to move the roadway back from mailboxes. And the speed limit on that stretch of Tracyton Boulevard will go from the current 35 to 30 miles per hour.The medians are designed so it will feel comfortable to drive around them at about 33 miles per hour, Mahan said, down from the current average speed of 43 mph on the road.Rob Schneidler was optimistic that the medians would solve the longtime traffic problems.We think the design is excellent and we're excited to see the project completed, he said. "

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