News

Hwy. 101 plans draw public ire

 -
— image credit:

The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe revealed extensive plans for U.S. Highway 101 and some Blyn roadways at an Oct. 6 open house.


The tribe proposed several changes in accessibility of the highway in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation and Clallam County.

The project tentatively proposes changes from Blyn Crossing to Deerhawk Drive:

• Limiting left-hand turns from side roads onto existing county intersections

• Creating median openings allowing U-turn movements and bidirectional travel along U.S. Highway 101 through indirect left turns

• Left-turn storage and acceleration/deceleration lanes on Highway 101 for turning movements (connected to remaining intersections)

• Creating a raised median that limits access so vehicles can't pull onto the highway from the left and allow only for right-in and right-out movements

• Realigning East Sequim Bay Road more directly to Highway 101 by routing traffic away from the tribal center's campus with a new access point

• Combining access of Chicken Coop Road and Zaccardo Road into one 90-degree intersection with direct access to Highway 101

Annette Nesse, chief operations officer for the tribe, said they've been thinking about a project for 10 years and worked heavily on it the past two.

"We are trying to improve the general roadways," Nesse said. "From the tribe's perspective, the project will lessen traffic by the tribal campus and ensure the safety of people using the campus and tribal dental clinic."

Tribal staff found an increasing volume of drivers and many not following the speed limit. Staff anticipates nontribal growth continuing to affect traffic and safety in Blyn, Diamond Point and the Miller Peninsula.

Nesse said the tribe plans to fund the project, which is estimated to be about

$30 million.

The tribe received two grants from the Bureau of Indian Affairs for $750,000 in 2005 for Phase I and $670,000 in 2009 for planning in Phase II.

During the planning

phase, 16 alternative plans were made including proposals for an overpass, traffic light, speed bumps and more.

"This plan is preferred," Nesse said.



Residents' uproar

Some of the 75 residents at the open house jeered the proposal deeming it unnecessary and/or fixing problems that don't exist.

"I'm opposed to the whole plan," Chris Yaeger, said a Blyn resident.

Yaeger and others were concerned that the indirect left turns and U-turns would create more traffic rather than lessen it.

"All summer the backup affects us," she said. "Even Thursday and Friday nights are backed up near the casino."

She prefers keeping left turns and putting in speed bumps.

Married couple Lloyd and Christie Hausner said they were shocked when they saw the proposal. They use East Sequim Bay Road to reach their home on the northern tip of Miller Peninsula because it's their only access point.

"It creates more opportunities for people to get hit and makes it more unsafe for anyone on Sequim Bay Road," Lloyd Hausner said.

His idea is to create a 30- foot turn lane onto the new East Sequim Bay Road extension.

"It's safer, more convenient and cheaper," Hausner said.

The plan potentially could displace people from their regular routes, too, like Glenna Campbell and her dad and neighbor Joseph Ferguson who live on East Sequim Bay Road. Campbell said they'd need to double back using an indirect left turn to come to their houses from Sequim.

"I don't feel the changes are necessary," Campbell said.

Ferguson agreed.

"I don't think it's an improvement," he said.



Trial run

Answering residents' questions were planners from Parametrix, a Washington-based engineering and planning firm, Nesse, and a representative from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Owen Kikuta, highway engineer for Parametrix, said residents' frustration was to be expected because introducing a new concept is not always easy to handle.

"They were mostly upset about losing left-hand turns into Blyn Crossing and East Sequim Bay Road," Kikuta said. "People seem to want a more conventional system."

He said the concept of an indirect left turn is not uncommon and a similar project is going in at Highway 101 near Kitchen-Dick Road.

The proposed highway expansion would install six indirect left turns during construction set for the second quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013.



Other options nixed

Some residents were confused why the Blyn tribal area was pinpointed for construction rather than other nearby accident zones. Dave Garlington, assistant project engineer for the department of transportation, said roads like Louella and Palo Alto are on the department's list of priorities but not in the tribe's proximity.

"To say there are other high accident points, it's no question, but it's not the point," Garlington said. "This is funded by the tribe."



Wetlands

The proposed East Sequim Bay Road realignment goes through wetlands. Nesse said the area has mostly trees and two inefficient streams.

"Part of this project would improve ineffective culverts and help fish passage," she said.

Environmental engineers are working on the project now assessing biological studies and impact of the project.

Nesse said if the tribe were to receive state and/or federal funding from the project, then it would need to go through the State Environmental Policy Act and National Environmental Policy Act along with other construction permit procedures.



Comments

Residents were given an opportunity to comment on the plan. Tribe staff and planners are reviewing comments now and working toward putting a tab at www.jamestown tribe.org about the project.

Comments remain open by contacting Nesse at 681-4620 or anesse@jamestowntribe.org.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 23 edition online now. Browse the archives.