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U.S. 101 passing lane might be cut

A U.S. Highway 101 passing lane project planned for this year west of Blyn might not get built because of the state's budget deficit.

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege,

D-Sequim, said he will lobby to keep the project funded but noted that some Schoolhouse Point Lane residents object to it for safety reasons.

Van De Wege, along with Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, and Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, represent the 24th District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and one-third of Grays Harbor County.

The estimated $3.55 million project would add a mile-long westbound passing lane from School House Point Lane to Corriea Road.

The project's planning and preliminary engineering are under way and the state Legislature slated $1.9 million to continue construction work during the 2007-2009 biennium that ends June 30, according to the state Department of Transportation Web site.

Preliminary engineering is the first of three phases of a road project, followed by right of way acquisition and then construction.

The project's Web page lists $3.55 million in funding that includes $2.8 million from the 2003 nickel gas tax increase and $735,000 in existing funds.

Troy Cowan, project development engineer out of DOT's Tumwater office, said the project's construction phase isn't funded, at least not in the governor's proposed 2009-2011 budget released Dec. 18.

Van De Wege said he hadn't heard the project wasn't in the governor's budget but that document is only a starting point in budget negotiations.

"I'm not a big fan of the governor's budget. I'll check on that when I get there," he said.

"I'm concerned because we could use one there, especially westbound. Some Schoolhouse Point Lane residents are concerned though, especially the way it's set up," Van De Wege said.

Schoolhouse Point Lane residents don't want to cross merging traffic to get onto their road, Van De Wege said. All they wanted was a turn lane.

Schoolhouse Point Lane is just east of Sequim Bay State Park. In 2003, the accident-prone blind intersection of Dawley Road and U.S. Highway 101 was closed and replaced with a perpendicular intersection of Highway 101 and Schoolhouse Point Lane.

Nora Brodie, who lives on Schoolhouse Point Lane, said instead of a passing lane the area needs to be designated a no passing zone for the safety of residents accessing the street.

"It's too dangerous for us to turn. If they add a passing lane onto Highway 101, turning left will be impossible and turning right will be almost impossible," she said.

Brodie said because passing is allowed along that stretch, drivers pass you when you're trying to turn left.

"I think what we need more than a passing lane is a stoplight, but that costs $100,000 so I know that's not realistic and I know a stop sign is not going to happen," Brodie said.

Brian Gawley can be reached at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.



Voters get new access to leaders

A new Web site was initiated Jan. 12, the first day of the state Legislature's term, to help voters and advocacy groups better communicate with their state legislators.

The site lets users track legislation they are interested in, communicate with their legislators and form secure discussion groups. It is free to voters, state legislators and legislative staff. Lobbyists and advocacy groups are charged an annual subscription.

The site, called TrueLobby, was founded by Mike Sherstad, a former state legislator, who says the number of

e-mails received by legislators can overwhelm staff, and electronically managing them can improve efficiency.

Principals in the Seattle-based TrueLobby corporation are Sherstad, Will Little and Kirk Anderson.

Visit TrueLobby at www.truelobby.com.





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