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Federal grants will fund pedestrian projects in Oak Harbor

A total of $374,500 in federal funds will make Oak Harbor a safer place for pedestrians.

The city was recently awarded two grants through the Transportation Alternatives Program, a gas-tax fund dedicated to pedestrian and bicycle-related projects.

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley said the city received a $224,500 grant to install a mid-block crosswalk on Whidbey Avenue between the Kmart parking lot and the Roller Barn.

The other grant, for $150,000, will fund the repair of the Waterfront Trail near the Veteran’s Memorial on Pioneer Way. A hillside gave way and took out part of the trail a couple of years ago.

The grant program funds the projects at 100 percent and requires no local matching money.

Dudley said the crosswalk has been a safety concern for some time. He pointed out that people who live in apartments surrounding the Roller Barn, including older people from the Harbor Tower Village, commonly cross Whidbey Avenue mid-block to get to the commercial lot that includes Saars Marketplace and many other businesses.

As a member of the Skagit/Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Dudley successfully argued to have the crosswalk named as the top-priority project for the funding source.

“There have been multiple near-misses,” he said, adding that a pedestrian was hit by a car at the site before his term as mayor.

“Community safety continues to be my top priority,” he said.

Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green said all of Whidbey Avenue is a concern for the department because of the high volume of traffic and the mix of schools, businesses and homes creates conflicts between vehicles and  people on foot.

“If it’s about creating a safer area for pedestrians and cars, we’re all for it,” he said of the plans for the crosswalk.

 

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