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Name that road

The highway stretching the length of Whidbey Island offers views of prairies, tall trees, scenic sunsets and blue waters, but some feel the numerically-designated road needs a name that will better denote the beauty it presents to motorists.

That is one of the numerous tasks a community group is trying to accomplish in developing a Corridor Management Plan to enhance the features along Highways 20 and 525, the two-lane ribbon of asphalt that runs the length of the island.

The 25-member committee started with 16 names and whittled that number down to four:

• Whidbey Island Scenic Byway.

• Whidbey Island Scenic Passage.

• Whidbey Island Byway.

• Whidbey Island Scenic Link.

However, those four names are by no means the finalists as the committee is looking to the public to provide additional suggestions.

The committee, comprised of citizens from throughout the island, government officials and several consultants, has been working on the highway management plan since October 2003.

One of the highlights of the 112-page plan is a compilation of 25 “intrinsic values” that are on the island and should be enhanced.

“Those are basically the best of the best on the island,” said Jodie Vice. She is a planner with Otak Inc., a Seattle-based company hired by the county to assist with the plan.

North end intrinsic highlights include Deception Pass State Park, downtown Oak Harbor and Blue Fox Drive Inn.

Vice said the Blue Fox in an important feature because there are fewer than 10 such theaters left in the state.

The report provides a plethora of recommendations to improve transportation and enhance the qualities of the island, then goes on to suggest a possible marketing plan.

Suggestions included additional multi-use trails for pedestrians and bicyclists and expanded service from Island Transit.

Vice said she received a lot of comments about non-motorized traffic possibilities, adding that Sunday service offered by Island Transit would help folks travel the island without their cars on the weekends.

The plan also calls for improving visitors centers at the “gateways” to the island, installing a rest area and wildlife viewing platforms.

While the Corridor Management Plan suggests a variety of changes, it also provides suggestions to bring more visitors to the island.

Vice said that any campaign should try and draw visitors during the off season.

One thing that would attract visitors to the island would be having the highway named a National Scenic Byway.

However, people are split on whether the committee should pursue the national designation.

While such a designation would attract more visitors, it could also increase congestion on Whidbey Island roads.

“It’s kind of trying to find a balance,” Vice said. “That’s why we’ve encouraged motorized travel.”

The corridor management plan is currently available online and a presentation can be seen at various places throughout the island.

During the week of Aug. 2, the plan can bee seen in Coupeville Public Library. After that, it will be available in Oak Harbor Public Library. Folks can also turn in comments when they view the plan.

Once the public comments are complete an action plan based will be drawn up based on the recommendations outlined in the management plan.

“It takes all the recommendations in the plan and puts it into a table and we can start prioritizing projects,” Vice said.

The plan will also provide a timeline and funding options for potential projects.

Vice said she hopes the action plan will be finished sometime in October.

Read all about the plan

A draft of the plan can be found online at www.islandcounty.net/publicworks/Whidbey_Corridor_Management_Plan/Whidbey_Corridor_Management_Plan.htm.

For more information, call (206) 442-1378.

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