South Whidbey port leaders to vet traffic concepts for feasibility

Early concepts for rerouting traffic along the highway near the Clinton Ferry Terminal will get a simple look-over by officials from state agencies and Island County at a meeting in late March.

Maury Hood

Early concepts for rerouting traffic along the highway near the Clinton Ferry Terminal will get a simple look-over by officials from state agencies and Island County at a meeting in late March.

Port of South Whidbey Commissioner Curt Gordon said he scheduled a gettogether with representatives of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s highways and ferries divisions, as well as Island County. They will look over the “conceptual” drawings done for the port by a consulting group that includes a pair of roundabouts on the highway, medians, and a generally altered traffic flow that, in theory, makes pedestrian traffic across State Route 525 safer and simpler.

“I don’t even know if that’s slightly possible,” Gordon said Monday during a Clinton Community Council meeting. In addition to serving as an elected official for the port district, he volunteers on the non-elected community council that is helping gather and guide long-rang planning ideas for the unincorporated area.

“I don’t want to waste any more of the port’s money, which is your money and my money, down a pipe dream,” he added.

The design accomplishes a few goals. It reduces traffic speeds coming off and going to the ferry. That, in turn, can improve the walkability of Clinton by making the five-lane crossing a bit safer with slower moving vehicles. Not as apt to zoom past, it could also make some of the businesses more visible.

One of the more radical ideas, previously discussed during the yearlong Clinton Future Search in 2011, was the creation of a community septic drain field. Without a sewer system, some kinds of high density development are almost impossible in Clinton’s commercial hub near the ferry terminal in what is designated a rural area of intense development. The classification limits new development to the type already there.

Determining the feasibility of such ideas is the purpose of the late March meeting, Gordon said. But even if he learns that all of the concepts in the design are possible, they may not be worth pursuing.

“Just because it’s feasible even doesn’t mean we’ll promote it,” he said.

A handful of people attended the meeting and questioned the intent of such a study in the first place. They came to the island and Clinton because it is a rural area.

“You can’t get away from the city in the city,” said Larry Watson. “Once you bring it here, it won’t go away.”

“I like the island the way it is,” he added.

Another man, Joe Henderson of Bayview, echoed those sentiments. He said he spent time in Australia where there were plenty of roundabouts, and he never got accustomed to them and thought they were a bad idea for Clinton.

“Most people are getting off the ferry and going home,” he said. “That’s the way it’s going to be.”

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