East Sequim Road project included in 16-year transportation budget
Pending Governor Jay Inslee’s signature later this month, the US 101 East Sequim highway project appears to have funding — possibly.
The project aims to improve safety from Simdars Road to Happy Valley Road along US Highway 101 and was included in the approximately $17 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation program which spans a cycle of 16 year funding.
Approximately $30.5 million is earmarked for the project which could include full on and off ramps at Simdars Road, build feeder roads from Palo Alto Road and Happy Valley Roads to the new interchange, and add new landscaping and art along the corridor.
“We are thrilled,” Sequim City Manager Matt Huish said in an interview. “It’s been a long time coming and being on the roster is a big deal.”
As for the expected date of construction, it is unknown, according to him and other state officials.
“We want to be higher on the list of projects,” Huish said. “Sixteen years is a long time. We will do our best to achieve this as soon as possible. »
The Simdars Interchange was left completed in 2000 by the state after funding ran out after the Sequim Bypasses were installed along the highway.
Local municipalities, including the Town of Sequim, Clallam County and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, have advocated for years to see its completion.
At the Sequim City Council meeting on March 14, city lobbyist Davor Gjurasic said he did not expect the legislature to pass the transportation package in a short session.
“It’s pretty amazing that they did it,” he said. “That’s excellent news.”
Gjurasic said the $30.5 million was more than they asked for and that local lawmakers (state Reps. Steve Tharinger and Mike Chapman and Sen. Kevin Van De Wege) were “crucial to us help obtain these funds”.
Looking ahead, he said he is unlikely to receive funding in the first year, as projects left unfinished by the Connecting Washington effort will be first.
Sequim’s project still requires pre-design work by Department of Transportation engineers before it can be considered “ready to go” and placed in a construction queue.
Gjurasic said the House and Senate aren’t raising gas rates for the package, but instead are using for the most part funding a combination of funds from the state’s operating budget and its Trust Fund account. Public Works Trust that helps cities and counties with low-interest loans.
“That could change,” he said. “They could consider another source of funding [as, with] 16 year packages, they can change things.
The survey says
From Jan. 27 to Feb. 27 On January 10, WSDOT engineers opened a pre-design study survey with 14 suggested improvements, including possible roundabouts and detours on and alongside the freeway. WSDOT planners have previously said the survey will help guide recommended improvements that will be revealed in May.
They received 824 responses online.
Surveyors selected a frontage road from Palo Alto Road to Simdars Road as the most significant improvement and the completion of on and off ramps at the interchange as the second most significant.
The roundabouts offered at Happy Valley and Palo Alto Roads were among the least popular options, according to survey results.
Surveyors’ biggest concern was traffic entering and exiting Palo Alto Road safely.
Leaders of the City of Sequim, Clallam County and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe signed a joint letter to the state advocating for the project and encouraging the completion of the Simdars Road Interchange and the creation of frontage roads from Palo Alto Road and Happy Valley Roads. Highway.
W. Ron Allen, President/CEO of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal, said in an interview that they support the effort because “the highway is getting more and more intense.”
“It makes more sense to start transitioning access to the 101 freeway in a safe way,” he said.
Allen said Palo Alto was of less concern generations ago when there was less traffic.
“It just makes more sense to us that access from Simdars is much, much safer,” he said.