Sequim city councilors unanimously agreed last week to a partial match of federal funds to secure more than $500,000 toward design of the U.S. 101 East Sequim Corridor Project.
The approximate $20 million project would build on and off ramps at the Simdars Road interchange on U.S. Highway 101, construct a frontage road for Palo Alto and Happy Valley Roads along the highway to the new interchange, and add landscaping to the Sequim entryway.
Sequim Public Works Director David Garlington told city councilors at their Sept. 14 meeting a deadline was moved up and they had until that Wednesday (Sept. 16) to agree to a Local Agency Agreement with the Washington Department of Transportation to secure federal Surface Transportation Block Grant funds.
The agreement requires an $85,838 match to receive $550,000 in funding.
“The Local Agency Agreement ensures in the near term, we won’t lose the money,” Garlington said.
He added that the city was initially proposing obligating the funds under the city’s name rather than WSDOT as an identical project, but the agreement allows funding to remain in place.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said, “I don’t know what we’re waiting for. This is such an economic development opportunity.”
Garlington said WSDOT officials weren’t going to obligate funds for design work because of concerns for issues elsewhere, so the city stood a chance of losing the funds.
In 2019, $1.3 million was appropriated through the state legislature to WSDOT to begin design work.
However, Garlington said, little to no work or funds are being designated unless the entities secure design and construction funding in the 2021 legislative session.
He said the city plans to seek full funding, and that the project has been in the City of Sequim’s Transportation Plan for many years.
“A big element (for legislators) is that they see money (for the project) is coming from more than one source,” Garlington said.
He said a good selling point is that the project potentially uses funds from federal, state and local resources.
Completion of the Simdars interchange was abandoned in 2000 after funding was exhausted for the U.S. Highway 101 project.
City staff said if the project continues to be funded, staff will transfer design funds to WSDOT, but if funding disappears, the federal block funds will be released to another regional project.