Sound to Olympics Trail

An Interview with Chris Hammer, Engineering Manager for Public Works, Bainbridge Island, WA on an Innovative Project in his Community

ARTICLE | Apr 26, 2018
by Chris Hammer

Q: Please give background for your city and for your project:

A: The City of Bainbridge Island prides itself on being a small city that realizes the expressed desires of our citizens in big ways. The City is situated in western Washington State and is connected to Seattle by ferry. After over a decade of regional collaboration the City opened the first mile of new “Sound of Olympics Trail” which now improves connectivity for residents to downtown Seattle and within downtown Bainbridge Island.

Q: Describe your project/innovation:

A: While most trails are built from old railroad alignments, here we’ve build a new route. It’s a paved shared use pathway that is fully ADA compliant serving persons of all ages and ablitities. The trail runs through areas of the City that are underdeveloped in hopes that in the future the area and City overall will become less auto-centric. This project was supported by the City, County, State, and Federal agencies as well as numerous advocacy groups. The City’s main priority for building this trail, and those like it, are to help create an environment where people feel comfortable walking and biking and can get to popular destinations efficiently. In 2014, the City received federal grant funds to build a major portion of t and in large part the overall project was led by residents who have pushed through several phases since 2001. 

Additional Information on the trail can be found at Along with the project description, the link provided includes a map showing the vision for the STO trail and a map showing how the STO trail fits in the vision for trail networks in Downtown Bainbridge Island/Town of Winslow.

Key Goals of the Trail:

The overarching purpose of the project is to support the region's economy and smart compact growth by improving non-motorized capacity and connectivity, and promoting active modes of transportation and transit along the SR305 corridor. More specifically, the project is intended to address the following goals:

  • Advance the regional infrastructure to meet the demands of a modern economy, providing more effective and efficient multi-modal transportation, by improving the non-motorized capacity of the ferry system, improving access to bus transit, and expanding non-motorized networks including the regional STO trail and intergraded multi-use trails, Cope 40 program bike lanes, and Complete Streets program project including bike lanes and sidewalks.
  • Link a highly educated work force with housing in Bainbridge Island/Kitsap County to job centers, including the largest employment center in Seattle, ensuring residents have access to family wage jobs and employers have access to world class talent.
  • Continue to support new high technology business and entrepreneurship on Bainbridge Island by providing viable alternatives with affordable office space that is convenient to the regions largest urban center of Seattle and the Seattle-Tacoma Airport with a more efficient reverse commute.
  • Foster tourism within walkable and bikable distances of the Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry terminals, including the Seattle waterfront and historic main street town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island, to the local business climate and enhance Seattle's viability as a global tourist destination.
  • Encourage compact development in the urban growth area of Downtown Bainbridge Island/Winslow by reducing dependence on the automobile by constructing viable and efficient non-motorized networks improving livability and quality of life for residents.
  • Expanding access for persons of all ages and abilities including seniors and persons with disabilities many of whom choose to live in the mixed use and higher density residential districts within Downtown Bainbridge Island/Winslow. (22% of population elderly per 2010 census)
  • Improving the viability and safety of non-motorized modes of transportation and transit, thus encouraging active modes and providing health benefits.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas and diesel particulate emissions by improving the efficiency of public transportation and fostering compact growth that is less reliant on the automobile.

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