Letters to the Editor — May 22, 2024

Concerns remain for Towne Road

On May 14, Clallam Commissioners Mike French and Randy Johnson voted to move ahead to construct the “hybrid” option of a paved road and pedestrian trail on the Lower Dungeness levee/Towne Road. They did so despite critical questions regarding the environmental impact of paving, the efficacy of the county’s stormwater treatment plan, and the safety of the trail design.

The floodplain restoration appears to be a tremendous success ecologically, yet as many have testified to the commissioners, it could be undone by re-introducing daily vehicle traffic and the associated effects of stormwater flowing into the floodplain, wetlands, and nearby Meadowbrook Creek from the paved road.

A chemical called 6-PPD-q, used in tire manufacturing, is released as dust that contaminates stormwater, washes into waterways, and is highly toxic to fish.

When the county issued its 2018 “Declaration of Non-Significance” for the environmental impacts of the levee/road project, this chemical had not yet been identified as a major culprit in stormwater-related salmon mortality; now, the county is aware of the issue but has refused to update its environmental analysis and doesn’t acknowledge this noxious threat.

The emergency access and tsunami evacuation that was of concern to some could be available right now without paving, yet the commissioners have rejected this saner option.

The county is plowing ahead with a project that could undermine the floodplain restoration, employing a stormwater treatment system of unknown effectiveness, and featuring a trail design that the county’s Trails Advisory Committee has deemed unsafe. And they are proceeding with no permit in hand from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The delay and reconsideration of the last few months provided the opportunity to change course on the levee road, enhance the restoration, and preserve a safe and well-loved trail experience. Sadly, these decision makers did not have the imagination to embrace it.

Janine Blaeloch