U.S. 101 passing lane could get stimulus money

A U.S. Highway 101 passing lane project west of Blyn threatened by state budget cuts might get built after all due to the federal government's economic stimulus program.

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

The state's list released Feb. 24 has two tiers of projects to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed Feb. 17 by President Barack Obama.

If a first tier project can't be built, then one on the second tier will be substituted.

The first tier contains 35 projects totaling $341.4 million, most of which are listed as "ready to go" within 90 or 120 days. Two

are listed as being ready to go within 270 days.

The second tier lists 12 projects totaling $82.9 million, half of which are listed as being ready to go within 90 days.

The School House Point Lane project's planning and preliminary engineering are under way and the state Legislature slated $1.9 million to continue construction during the 2007-2009 biennium that ends June 30.

But the project's construction phase wasn't funded in the governor's proposed 2009-2011 budget released Dec. 18.

The project is listed at the top of the second tier project list, but it won't necessarily be the first alternative if something drops off the first tier list, said DOT spokesman Lloyd Brown.

Some of the criteria for moving up from the second tier includes the "ready to go" time frame, he said.

The stimulus plan is targeted at projects that are "shovel ready," so how close a project is to starting carries a higher priority than other factors, Brown said.

Washington will receive $492 million in Federal Highway Administration money as part of the federal stimulus program.

Local governments will receive $152 million, which will be allocated through the "statewide transportation plan" process.

The state will receive $345 million, half of which must be allocated within 120 days or by July 1 with the other half allocated by March 1, 2010.

Reach Brian Gawley at

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