West Bay sidewalk to link park and condos

ahobbs@theolympian.comMay 2, 2014 

West Bay drive.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THURSTON REGIONAL PLANNING COUNCIL

This summer, Olympia plans to build a new sidewalk along West Bay Drive that’s been years in the making.

The project would complete the missing sections of sidewalk between Brawne Avenue Northwest and the Smyth Landing condominiums near Schneider Hill Road.

Mort James, president of the West Bay Neighborhood Association, said the sidewalk project is long overdue — especially because of the risk to pedestrians along the waterfront road.

“It’ll connect us to West Bay Park without risking life and limb,” said James, who has lived in the area for 25 years. He looks forward to using the sidewalk instead of “walking on the edge of a ditch.”

The city will seek construction bids in May. In a best-case scenario, construction will begin in July and conclude in October, said project manager Jim Rioux.

However, the construction dates are still uncertain. The planning process has been complicated because of wetlands and steep slopes , Rioux said.

“That road was built on fill,” he said, adding that the city is working with adjacent property owners on easements. “I don’t have a lot of room to maneuver.”

The overall cost for the project is about $2.5 million. Of that amount, about $1.5 million is going toward construction, with the rest paying for engineering and environmental studies, Rioux said. Funding for the project comes from a utility tax increase approved by voters in 2004.

Measuring 1,560 linear feet, the new sidewalk and its retention walls will incorporate art from Carolyn Law under a concept titled “Walking on Land by Water.” Also on board is renowned local poet Lucia Perillo, who will translate haiku by 18th-century Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa for display.

The project dates to 2005, when the Thurston Regional Planning Council released its West Bay Drive Corridor Study. Originally designed to serve the logging industry, the road is considered a major collector on the city’s west side. The traffic count could reach 9,700 vehicles a day by 2025, according to the county’s study, which notes that sidewalks are required for major collector roads.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 ahobbs@theolympian.com

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