Redesigning Our City Streets

Posted on Aug 2, 2017 in community, Gig Harbor

Featured in the August 2017 Issue of Gig Harbor Living Local

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

The City of Gig Harbor is currently re-imagining its transportation plan and you are invited to take part in the process! The first two public workshops took place in June and were named pop-up studios.

On June 22, the public was invited to join a pop-up at the Waterfront Framers’ Market. The following day, participants met at the Uptown Shopping Center Pavilion. If you missed the opportunity, don’t worry as there are more public workshops on the horizon. The city has named the effort Connect the Gig.

This initiative will update the Comprehensive Plan Transportation Element while also creating our city’s first non-motorized plan (also called all-modes or multi-modal plan.) According to Fehr & Peers, who completed a recent city-wide existing conditions assessment of our local transportation network, Gig Harbor will need to become less auto-oriented and create more non-motorized options to provide a truly multi-modal network.

The report states that our future transportation system will need to be:

□ Inviting and equitable, encouraging public health through active transportation

□ Smart, efficient and achievable

□ Effective in connecting the CoLIs to the regional transportation system

□ Sustainable over time, both financially and environmentally

□ Understood by the community it is essential that regional partners, residents, employees and visitors collaborate to in this process.

To truly understand and take part in this effort, one needs to comprehend the terminology. Within city limits, we have five Centers of Local Importance, referred to as CoLIs: Westside, Kimball, Downtown, Finholm and Gig Harbor North. The Westside CoLI is zoned for our highest intensity commercial development, such as theaters, grocery stores, medical facilities and more.

In the Kimball area, we move to a higher density residential zone that includes Tacoma Community College, our Civic Center, the park and ride, as well as hotels. Downtown is the central place for gathering during seasonal events, enjoying year-round small merchant shops, gaining access to the water, trails and seasonal transit. Around the corner in Finholm, we find a smaller area with restaurants and retail and some single family homes.

Gig Harbor North is zoned to be a commercial hub for larger retailers, including home to our hospital, YMCA and higher density single-family residential developments. As part of this effort, a company named Transportation Solutions, Inc. analyzed over seventy intersections during peak PM hours. Four of the seventy-two intersections analyzed did not meet the current LOS standard. LOS refers to level of service; grades represent wait times according to the degree of congestion at an intersection or roundabout.

Not to worry, in the Gig Harbor 2017-2022 Transportation Improvement Program, aka TIP, these four intersections have already been identified as upcoming projects. Would you like to know what the first pop-up studio ideas and thoughts were? A waterfront couplet might be a good solution! According to the Connect the Gig website, two proposals emerged from the pop-shops as potential solutions to relieve traffic and make room for all-modes downtown. A couplet is simply a pair of two one-way streets. The first proposal is to adapt Soundview, Harborview, Pioneer and Judson to work as a large circuit in either clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. The second proposal would adapt Harborview, Rosedale and Stinson into a one-way traffic route.

What are your thoughts on our current and future built environment? Want to be more involved in generating ideas to redesign our streets? Check out www.connectthegig.com to find out more, keep up to date and learn of future opportunities for your voice to be heard.