Homeowners ask questions about Olympic Discovery Trail segments at open house

PORT ANGELES — How will three planned Olympic Discovery Trail sections impact property boundaries, street parking, turn lanes, mailboxes and trash pickup?

At least 70 people, about 35 of whom live near Port Angeles-owned Olympic Discovery Trail segments, voiced these concerns during an open house Wednesday evening, assistant planner Ben Braudrick said.

City planners and representatives from Zenovic and Associates, the lead consultant on the project, answered questions about each section’s 30 percent designs.

The sections represent the last city-owned or -operated Olympic Discovery Trail legs that have yet to be improved or completed, Braudrick said.

The three trail sections, which would connect the existing trail maintained by the city, include:

• The “Working Waterfront,” from Valley Creek Estuary to East Marina Entry.

• Hill Street Marine Bluff, from Hill Street Marine Bluff to Crown Park.

• The Crown Park neighborhood, from Fourth and Milwaukee streets between Crown Park and the current designated trail end at 10th and Milwaukee streets.

Perspective drawings of the three sections can be viewed at wa-portangeles.civic plus.com.

“Many people were interested in the case-by-case,” Braudrick said. “They looked right at their property.”

Once their questions were answered, the feedback felt “overwhelmingly positive,” Braudrick said.

Steve Zenovic of Zenovic and Associates said people expressed support for the safety elements of the plan, which will protect bikers and pedestrians from traffic with a 3-foot-tall concrete barrier along a portion of Marine Drive and a 5-foot-tall wall along West Hill Street.

Zenovic said the overall vision of the trail also received positive comments. Once complete, the trail will extend from Port Townsend to La Push.

“This is a real critical thing to get done,” Zenovic said.

Of the three trail sections, people appeared to ask the most questions about the Crown Park neighborhood, Braudrick said.

Property boundaries

Braudrick said some homeowners near Hill Street Marine Bluff expressed concerns about the trail being close to their property boundaries, though the right of way extends about 10 to 15 feet past the current curb line.

He said, at maximum, the trail would encroach 3 feet past the existing curb.

“We’re trying our best not to do that,” he said.

City planners are considering reducing the width of the safety buffer to that end, Braudrick said.

Street parking

The trail section along West Fourth Street in the Crown Park Neighborhood will not allow for off-street parking.

However, side streets will offer plenty of parking spaces in the surrounding area, Braudrick said.

Public comment during a May meeting favored no off-street parking over a design that would allow for parking but extend the trail 8 feet past the curb line, he said.

Lane design

In light of reducing the lane width of Marine Drive from 25 feet to 10.5 feet, some people expressed worry about the Tumwater Truck Route left-turn lane, Braudrick said.

He said the lane design will accommodate semi and log trucks.

“The lane width will work for large semitrucks and trucks coming from the [Port] Terminal 7 Log Yard,” he said.

Although the trail will not worsen conditions, Zenovic said the trail also will not resolve the turn lane’s existing stacking hazards.

“The trail’s certainly not going to solve that problem,” Zenovic said.

Mailboxes, trash pickup

Mailboxes along the planned trail route through the Crown Hill neighborhood will be relocated to the other side of the street, and garbage pickup will be designated with concrete pads while trail construction is underway, Braudrick said.

Those projects will be included in the cost of trail construction; they will not come at a personal cost to homeowners, he said.

Construction costs

Braudrick expects construction cost estimates by the end of the year, he said. Best-case scenario: The estimates come back by the end of the month, Zenovic said.

Zenovic conceded: “It will cost money. Anything with infrastructure costs money.”

“We’re going to keep costs low,” Braudrick said. “It will be primarily grant-funded.”

In 2015, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program awarded the city a $200,000 no-match grant through the Safe Routes to School Program.

The grant funds all planning, design, engineering and construction estimate documents to develop a protected share-use path that will complete the about 1-mile trail gap between 10th and Milwaukee streets and the Valley Creek Estuary.

In 2018-19, Braudrick will search and apply for more grants, and he hopes the trail’s construction will begin in 2020, he said.

Survey

About 45 people at the open house completed a survey about trail use, Braudrick said.

Those who were unable to attend can share input or submit a question online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/R95PGW3 until Oct. 25, Braudrick said.

The survey questions ask if participants live or work within walking distance, defined as a one-fourth-mile radius or two to three city blocks, of the waterfront and Olympic Discovery Trail; how often they use the trail between Morse Creek and the Elwha River; whether they access the trail by walking, biking or driving; and if they commute to work via the trail.

After Oct. 25, Braudrick will analyze the results and post the findings on the city’s website, he said.

For more information about the project, visit wa-portangeles.civic plus.com.

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Reporter Sarah Sharp can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at ssharp@peninsula dailynews.com.