Sequim approves funding transfer

The Sequim City Council gave Mayor Laura Dubois the go-ahead to send a letter to the Washington State Department of Transportation in support of transferring federal dollars from a proposed Sequim rest stop to the alternative Deer Park location just east of Port Angeles.

In the 4-3 vote, councilors Paul McHugh, Walt Schubert and Bill Huizinga voted against sending the letter and possibly sending Clallam County the money.

“When the county’s public works department states the rest stop could be an essential step to completing an overpass over the (U.S. Highway 101), it gives me more of a reason to oppose this,” McHugh said during the July 28 council meeting.

On July 29, Clallam County commissioners signed an agreement for the state agency to reimburse costs incurred for engineering and designing a highway overpass. Commissioners also indicated to the council that they would support the Simdars interchange in future Peninsula Regional Transportation Planning Association meetings if it gave support for the funding transfer.

The Deer Park intersection with the highway has been a safety concern for years.

McHugh and Schubert also argued that the decision will take traffic flow away from the city, a much needed asset to local businesses.

Councilor Ken Hays disagreed. He said the reduction in traffic would be an asset to the community, both commercial and residential.

Councilors on both sides of the issue also debated a survey that went out to Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce business members, which indicated many businesses would not want to miss out on the possible visitors from the rest stop. Hays indicated the questions were suggestive and phrased to have support.

The Department of Transportation has not made any decisions whether or not the funding will be transferred to the west, but has only indicated a rest stop is necessary on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Regional project manager for the state agency Kevin Dayton indicated to Dubois that his department will research the option if he has the city’s approval.

The Department of Transportation owns the land in Sequim east of the Simdars interchange, but likely would deed the land back to Sequim at no additional cost, due to the contributions Sequim already had put into the project.

State representatives may not make a decision immediately on whether or not to move the funds. Dubois indicated more research will be done by the state before action is taken.

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