Marine Drive crossing project may face delay

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — City Manager Dan McKeen will recommend today that the City Council delay conducting a $22,700 study on building an overpass or pedestrian tunnel on Marine Drive, he said last week.

The study was intended to address safety concerns caused when groups of Westport Shipyard workers try to cross Marine Drive during afternoon shift changes at a crosswalk at Marine Drive and Tumwater Street.

The marked pedestrian crossing is situated where workers leave Westport to get to their vehicles in a parking lot at the former Blake Sand & Gravel industrial site.

Some vehicles on Marine Drive stopped just a few feet in front of workers exiting Westport on Friday as the pedestrians crossed during the company's 2:45 p.m. shift change.

The City Council approved an interlocal agreement with the Port of Port Angeles that authorized the study on a 4-2 vote on Oct. 2.

It was to be funded with $20,000 in state Surface Transportation Program funds from the Port of Port Angeles and $2,700 in city economic development funds, in-kind labor, or a combination of those two sources.

Council members Sissi Bruch and Max Mania were opposed, and Councilman Dan Di Guilio was absent.

Since the council meeting, McKeen discussed has discussed the study with staff and council members and decided to recommend that the council “look at more cost-effective solutions,” he said Friday.

“We may put it on hold indefinitely, I don't know,” McKeen said.

“There may be more cost-effective solutions that could be implemented sooner to accomplish the goal of providing pedestrian safety in that area.”

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.

McKeen did not have any specific solutions in mind and said he was unaware of any cost estimates for an overpass or underpass, he added.

“We want to engage with local businesses in the area and find out what's going to work for everybody,” he said.

Port Executive Director Jeff Robb said Friday that city and port officials in 2009 began discussing pedestrian safety issues in anticipation of more marine-trade companies moving to the north side of Marine Drive.

“It makes good sense, in front of these issues, to be sure, operationally, that we're safe,” he said.

City Community and Economic Development Director Nathan West told the council Oct. 2 that at peak times, “a lot of pedestrians are crossing at once” to a parking lot on the south side of Marine Drive on property the port purchased from Blake Sand & Gravel to accommodate Westport's parking needs.

The port leased the property to Westport in June.

Westport General Manager Phil Beirnes said last week that the parking lot was completed about six weeks ago.

“We announce in our morning announcements to stay in the crosswalk and make sure it is safe crossing it,” he said.

“I don't doubt that some of these boat builders are a little impatient,” Beirnes added.

“Cars are supposed to stop at the crosswalk, regardless.”

He suggested a traffic light might be more feasible.

But city Public Works & Utilities Director Glenn Cutler said a traffic light cannot be installed there because it would be too close to the Tumwater Truck Route light, which is less than one block east of Tumwater Street.

Beirnes said the company does not make public the number of employees who work at Westport.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 15. 2012 6:03PM
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