County wins grants for pedestrian paths

Walkers and bicyclists will have soon new paths to use instead of sharing the road in some of the islands’ highest pedestrian traffic areas.

The Washington State Department of Transportation granted $500,000 to San Juan County to jumpstart pedestrian pathway projects on each of the three ferry-served islands. The county has until March 2022 to complete the endeavors.

The grant is part of the Complete Streets Program, which encourages road planners to assess the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders on roads throughout the state. It requires a municipality to agree to draft street-design plans that accommodate all modes of transportation. However, it does not stipulate that the final design must include those details, nor that any predetermined set standards be applied.

The San Juan County Council unanimously approved the ordinance on Nov. 27 that requires public works to offer solutions for every method of transportation along with standard road improvements when designing a roadway in the county.

The projects funded by the grant are to be completed as follows:

• $100,000 to construct a 4-foot shoulder on the south side of Pear Point Road from Argyle Avenue to Jacksons Beach Road on San Juan (approximately 0.45 miles).

• $200,000 to build a curb, gutter and sidewalk on the south side of Rose Street from Madrona Street to the public library and from the library to Prune Alley on Orcas (about 220 feet).

• $130,000 to create a 4-foot-wide shoulder on the west side of Fisherman Bay Road from Lopez Road (Lopez Village) to the Fisherman Bay Marina (approximately 0.6 miles).

• $100,000 to construct pedestrian and bicycle improvements on the southeast side of Orcas Road from Myers Road to Main Street on Orcas (around 720 feet).

Concerned county residents brought the concept of Complete Streets to San Juan County engineer Colin Huntemer earlier last year, who then drafted an ordinance which was presented to council in mid-October.