PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles needs more sidewalks and people drive too fast on South N Street, the City Council decided this week while adopting six-year capital facilities and transportation improvement plans.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the long-range planning documents with an amendment for a complete streets revolving fund that would provide $100,000 per year beginning in 2022 for pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Council members also voted 7-0 to direct staff to present options for traffic calming and safety measures around a $300,000 chip sealing project on South N Street from West Fifth to 18th streets slated for 2022.
Earlier this year, the council received a citizens’ petition from an N Street resident who was concerned about people speeding along the north-south thoroughfare. The posted speed limit on South N is 25 mph.
“If you look on one side of the road, you will see that he’s put a sign on his property decrying what he calls the ‘city-sponsored highway,’” Council member Mike French said, referring to the petitioner.
“I think that’s just a little bit of rhetoric on his end, but I understand his position.”
French, whose children ride bicycles on South N, made a motion requesting options from staff on ways to slow traffic on the westside corridor.
“I do think that this is vital to keeping children safe,” French said during a 70-minute discussion on the infrastructure and street plan.
The 308-page Port Angeles capital facilities and transportation improvement plan is available on the city’s website, www.cityofpa.us.
City Finance Manager Sarina Carrizosa said the plans for 2021 to 2026 would result in no new debt and were “financially sound and achievable with staff resources.”
“The 2021 to 2026 CFP and TIP is a living document, and it’s subject to change based on economic factors or other conditions,” Carrizosa told the council.
In a public hearing Tuesday, Brenda Robinson of west Port Angeles raised concerns about the lack of sidewalks on West 18th Street.
Robinson, a mail carrier who has lived in the area since 1989, said there had been a palpable increase in foot and bicycle traffic from West 16th Street to the 18th Street trailhead for the Olympic Discovery Trail.
Most of the 35 mph-speed-limit road is narrow and lacks sidewalks on either side.
“The traffic is well over 35 mph,” Robinson said in the virtual meeting.
“With the influx of people going to the trail, it would be really nice to have something done out here to accommodate the foot and bicycle traffic so that it wouldn’t be such a safety issue.”
Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin agreed.
“We have, over the last several years, said that complete streets is a priority,” Schromen-Wawrin said, referring to a transportation policy that provides access for non-motorized travelers.
“I think we should reflect those values here and actually make the rubber meet the road, pun intended.”
Schromen-Wawrin made a motion to include a complete streets revolving fund in the capital facilitates plan at a rate of $100,000 per year beginning in 2021.
That motion was later amended to begin collecting revenue in 2022.
“The reality is that it doesn’t matter how busy your street is, everyone still needs access to sidewalks and to walkable streets,” Council member Navarra Carr said.
“I really hope that we can use this fund in a way that might highlight neighborhoods in our community that otherwise would be forgotten.”
Council member Brendan Meyer said a revolving fund for sidewalks was a “no brainer and probably should have been in a long time ago.”
Council member Charlie McCaughan said he campaigned on public safety and agreed that the city needed more sidewalks.
“I do think this is an issue of prioritization, and certainly for me, conceptually, I really like the idea,” Mayor Kate Dexter said.
“I’m not sure I’m ready tonight to decide what the dollar amount is without being able to think though what prioritizing that amount means for other projects.”
City Manager Nathan West said the city had invested in sidewalks and designed complete streets such as the Race Street reconstruction planned for next year.
“We have major gaps in our pedestrian infrastructure, and our need for complete streets throughout this community is very important to us,” West said.
“There’s a number of projects that are moving us in that direction already in play in the capital facilities plan.”
Later in the meeting, Schromen-Wawrin made a motion to incorporate a complete streets project for the N Street chip seal planned for 2022.
“Since being an elementary-schooler biking to a friend’s house up there after school, that’s been a real dangerous road and people do totally fly down it,” Schromen-Wawrin said.
“So it makes sense that we could do something there to calm traffic on that street.”
Thomas Hunter, Port Angeles public works and utilities director, cautioned that the N Street chip seal was vital to preserve the sub-surface of the street.
“If we don’t do that now, things get a lot more expensive,” Hunter said.
Schromen-Wawrin’s motion failed 0-7.
French then moved to direct staff to bring back options regarding the chip seal project with possible additions around traffic calming and safety measures for South N Street.
That motion passed 7-0.
“I just want to thank the citizen who brought this to our attention,” French said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].