Residents driven to talk at WSDOT open house


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Chris Fitzgerald, KP News

At an evening meeting on Sept. 25 at Peninsula High School, John Donahue, new State Route 302 project manager for the multiple-year Washington State Department of Transportation study, began by acknowledging the high accident rate on 302.

Sen. Derek Kilmer addresses the audience at the SR-302 open house on Sept. 25. Photo by Danna Webster

He said his team was not there to “reinvent the wheel,” but to invite KP resident involvement in exploring traffic solutions. Donahue was aware of the Key Peninsula Community Plan and said WSDOT study personnel had met with that planning body and would be referring to recommendations already made in the final draft of the plan.

Donahue said the recently launched study will be building on previous efforts, referring to the 1993 study, which concluded with various solutions and significantly different costs. “This study,” he said, “begins with those alternatives in Phase 1, screening alternatives (to arrive at) ultimate alternative solutions.”

The process then intends to proceed to an “Intent Phase” to study limits, purpose of need, solution revetting, and determination of reasonable/unreasonable alternatives. DO does not have a preferred alternative at this point and is looking at community and environmental impacts. Donahue said WSDOT’s scientific and objective process “includes public input.” He concluded his presentation by telling the audience, “No construction money is allocated at this time.” The study is being done solely with the intent to provide information regarding proposed projects.

Longbranch resident Mary Mazur addresses 302 issues during the public input sessions. Photo by Danna Webster

The evening open house consisted of two identical staggered presentations, after which audience members were invited to choose one of 10 identical stations. Each station had an oversized map of the proposed area and the KP, plenty of chairs for participants, and a WSDOT or affiliate facilitator holding a handful of colored pens. Throughout both sessions, all 10 stations were full. Participants, many of whom stood or sat with arms crossed at the beginning of the presentation, freely offered alternatives, opinions, pointed to locations on the maps, and helped themselves to the facilitators’ pens to draw out their solutions. Consistent concerns at every station were a desire to move the primary Purdy Spit access, protect the shorelines and streams, and retain the rural quality of life.

In an onsite interview, 26th Legislative District Sen. Derek Kilmer told the KP News, “SR-302 is a priority from a safety and congestion-relief standpoint. Construction money (could be available) with additional revenue; we’ve raised the gas tax two times in five years. SR-302 is one of Washington state’s top 10 most dangerous corridors, (which) improves the likelihood of funding from a mix of resources.”

Illustrating the difficulty looming for any potential solution, at one station, when a participant drew a line where he figured a new highway should run, a woman in the seat behind stood up and shouted, “That’s my land!” At that point, a third person came to the map, took the pen from the first person, and drew another line over existing DNR/WSDOT land, saying, “If you do it this way, it’s cheaper and better than taking people’s farmland.”


Analysis results shared

Two open houses in December will reveal preliminary SR-302 corridor analysis: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Peninsula High School Auxiliary Gym (near pool and tennis courts), 14105 Purdy Drive NW

Thursday, Dec. 6, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Key Peninsula Civic Center, 17010 South Vaughn Road, Vaughn

For a complete list of all citizen recommendations from the September public sessions, go to and click on “Open House summary”[/box]