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Simdars interchange arises again

Three 2010 projects are listed on the six-year Transportation Improvement Plan unanimously approved by city councilors.

They are a new Grant Road/Western Way connector, estimated at $160,000; rehabilitation of North Seventh Avenue, estimated at $150,000; and Third Avenue sidewalk improvements, estimated at $170,000.

But the project that got the most attention - the long-discussed Simdars interchange - isn't listed for construction until 2012 and still isn't funded.

Councilor Walt Schubert said he talked to the state Department of Transportation regarding using money from the proposed Sequim rest stop for the Simdars interchange.

He knows the city must contribute to the project but there's no answer from the state about how much, he said.

"What's it going to take?"

Capital Projects Manager Frank Needham said at the July 27 council meeting it's a $7 million project and the city must contribute $3 million.

But there's no state money available yet, and the project must get back on the state's priority list, he said.

"I do know it's $3 million."

Transportation projects must be listed in the city's transportation improvement plan and in the city's comprehensive plan to be considered for state and federal funding.

Regional projects such as the Simdars interchange also must be included in the plans of the Peninsula Regional Transportation Organization and the state DOT.

Listing in the plan doesn't guarantee construction, as that depends upon funding.

Schubert said some businesses in the city's east end are interested in contributing to the project so they have to know how much.

"Is there any indication how the project would do if we get the $3 million? We need to do something to get this project off dead-center. I know people," Schubert said.

Needham reiterated that the project must get back on the state's priority list.

After the bypass project, the Simdars Road interchange with U.S. Highway 101 never was finished. That means drivers in the city's east end can't enter the highway westbound nor exit it eastbound.

The project got renewed life when it was proposed that the rest stop to be built in Sequim's east end be built instead at Deer Park east of Port Angeles.

The state Department of Transportation owns the land in Sequim east of the Simdars interchange but could deed the land back to Sequim at no additional cost.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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