Port Angeles council views non-motorized travel projects

Talks about pedestrian, bicycle access and safety

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council affirmed its commitment to multimodal transportation after a staff presentation on projects that enhance non-motorized travel.

Council members on Tuesday peppered staff with technical questions and ideas on ways to improve pedestrian and bicycle access and safety but took no formal action during the two-hour work session.

“We’ll consider this the beginning of a longer conversation that council will take up again,” Mayor Kate Dexter said.

Priority plans

The council agreed to schedule a follow-up meeting on multimodal transportation, a priority in the city’s comprehensive and strategic plans.

“When we speak about multimodal, we’re talking about things like walking, cycling, automobiles, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility for wheelchairs and visually impaired, public transit systems, and there’s many others,” City Engineer Jonathan Boehme said in the virtual meeting.

“We’re even using one of those tonight with telecommuting.”

Boehme reviewed for the council a series of completed, active and planned multimodal transportation projects, including the $2.5 million restoration of West 10th Street between N and I streets that was completed last year.

The failing surface of West 10th Street was repaved, new utilities were installed, bike lanes were added and sidewalks were built along on the busy road near Hamilton Elementary School.

The city last year also completed a $1 million overlay and safety improvement for East Lauridsen Boulevard.

That project resulted in a new surface, ADA ramps, pedestrian islands, bike lanes and curb extensions.

Future projects

Next summer, the city will begin construction on a $4.7 million safety improvement for South Race Street, including a 12-foot-wide multipurpose trail that will eventually connect the Olympic Discovery Trail to the Olympic National Park Visitor Center.

The city next year also will begin construction on a $1.6 million safety improvement for South Lincoln Street, including bike lanes, curb extensions and a traffic signal at Third Street.

“I believe that the city of Port Angeles has done an amazing job of leveraging dollars to get grant opportunities to put some of these projects forward,” Public Works and Utilities Director Thomas Hunter told the council Tuesday.

The city also plans to complete the remaining Olympic Discovery Trail segments within the city limits, including a $4 million section along Hill Street slated for 2022.

Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said every transportation project should account for different types of users.

He questioned why vehicle lanes need to be 11 to 12 feet wide.

Schromen-Wawrin and Council Member Navarra Carr said trees should be valued as infrastructure.

Trees provide shade to help mitigate the effects of climate change and help clean the air, Carr said.

“I think that having just nice-looking streets that are easy to use increase your wanting to be on them,” Carr added.

Council member LaTrisha Suggs questioned why the 10th Street project had been on the city’s radar for 20 years.

“I’d sure like to move away from keeping projects on the list for that long,” Suggs said.

“I mean, that’s how long it took to remove the (Elwha River) dams.”

Council member Mike French said a generation of transportation planners had prioritized longer trips over shorter trips, which had devalued urban centers.

“This is a really important issue from an economic perspective as well as from an institutional perspective,” French said.

French said the city should partner with agencies like Clallam Transit on long-term planning for multimodal transportation.

“I don’t want us to silo,” he added.

Community and Economic Development Director Allyson Brekke said there would be “exciting connections” between multimodal transportation and form-based code in the city’s upcoming code update.

“Whether you’re in a car or a pedestrian, you have an experience,” Brekke said.

“So what we’re talking about, really, is that experience.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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