Folks weigh in on parking along Sixth, 11th

About 30 people attended an open house at city hall Monday night to weigh in on parking issues along Sixth and 11th streets following completion of the Pacific Avenue construction work.

Those in attendance seemed to agree that parking configurations on 11th Street, put into place ahead of the Pacific overhaul, should remain once construction is complete. The consensus seemed to be that the revamp on Sixth Street, though, is controversial and needs more careful consideration.

Bremerton Municipal Court Judge James Docter railed against Sixth Street parking and the ensuing congestion in front of his building, at the corner of Sixth and Park, as shipyard workers and others try to exit the downtown core every day at 4 p.m.

“If you haven’t come down and spent some time, you really should,” Docter said. “It’s embarrassing. You can’t get out of your parking lot.”

Docter said he is all for pedestrian and neighborhood friendly streets and slowing people down and encouraging them to get out of their cars, but said if parking is really needed on Sixth, it should be cut off at 4 p.m. Docter said the daily view from his office of people not moving is the result of some other factors as well, including poorly timed traffic lights at Park and Warren avenues.

“There’s gridlock and the light isn’t long enough for people to get through because there’s another light that’s keeping people from going across Warren,” he said. “So, from Pacific to Warren it’s gridlock, and from Burwell (all along) Park it’s gridlock, and everybody is scurrying around through parking lots to get up and down.”

City engineer Gunnar Fridriksson said that the city hasn’t had the money to do traffic signal timing for about 15 years. He also said single lanes allow for easier turning for Kitsap Transit buses and he touched on what he called the shipyard saturation when everybody gets off at the same time.

“So, do we make our streets so wide that we accommodate that 20-minute interval or do we provide a city where residents have a better feeling and better way of living?” said Fridriksson. “Do you want character and something that’s bicycle and pedestrian friendly or do you want to get the heck out of Dodge as fast as possible?”

Docter emphasized his idea of limiting parking to certain times and added, “I think it’s ridiculous not to let you turn right going down Sixth on Park. Everybody’s gotta wait now for that gridlock to clear even if you wanna take a right on Park.”

Newly elected City Councilman Dino Davis also had some pretty harsh words for downtown congestion and traffic controls that isolate him and his midtown District 5 neighbors.

“We’re looking at closing down lanes and reducing flow in the downtown core, which isn’t a bad thing, but we’re going to force it into the center of our city,” he said. “It’s just going to get worse.”

Davis described the cement islands on Warren Avenue between Burwell and Warren as “an unmitigated failure” and said his entire neighborhood is an isolated island as a result of downtown parking and traffic changes.

“I’m sorry about Burwell in the afternoon, but it’s Burwell all day long trying to come down the hill (on Sixth and 11th),” he said.

Davis also said that efforts to make downtown more friendly to those not in cars, has the exact opposite affect for him and his neighbors and makes matters worse.

“Where we really see the squeeze point is on Naval in front of Naval Elementary where people don’t stop for the crosswalks and there’s no safe way to cross Sixth Street between Warren and Veneta and from Veneta to Naval back down the hill,” he said. “So, essentially we’ve created an island in the center of the city that you can’t get out of if you’re walking or riding a bicycle.”

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