The golden shovels dug in and work has begun on the West Fir Street Rehabilitation Project.
Dignitaries held a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 16 for the construction project that rebuilds pipeline and roadway while adding new amenities from Sequim Avenue west to Fifth Avenue.
“This is absolutely going to be the most beautiful street in the City of Sequim in my belief,” said Sequim Mayor Dennis Smith.
“It just takes awhile to get there.”
City Engineer Matt Klontz told the crowd of 40-plus people that the project has been in discussion since 1990 and design work started in 2014.
“It’s five years later and we’re ready to break ground,” Klontz said. “Someone needs to come up here and pinch me.”
The estimated construction, costing up to $6.2 million with local contractor Interwest Construction, will tentatively be completed in the summer of 2020, city staff said.
Klontz told the crowd that the roadway has engineer-rated low pavement condition index of 26 out of 100 — considered one of the worst among city streets — and that rehabilitation effort benefits both vehicles and pedestrians.
The project will include new bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides of the road with Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curbs and intersections, new underground utility connections, new piping for water, sewer, stormwater, irrigation and reused water, street lighting, street crossing enhancements and a new traffic signal at Fifth Avenue and Fir Street.
With the road serving Sequim High School, Helen Haller Elementary School, Olympic Peninsula Academy and the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, Klontz said, “we have a real vulnerable population being served by this project.”
“That reason alone makes it worth it alone,” he said.
Sequim Schools superintendent Gary Neal said as he and school staff learned about the project, “it got more and more exciting as we saw the idea of what they were going to do.
“The West Fir Street project is going to be a landmark for the city; a springboard for what’s next,” Neal said.
Also in attendance for the groundbreaking was Ashley Probart, executive director of the state’s Transportation Improvement Board, which granted the city $3.1 million for the project.
Probart said the board received roughly $100 million in funding annually for projects like this and Fir Street “clearly is a high priority project for the TIB.”
Bob Reick, operations manager for Interwest Construction, said the project is a big deal for his company, too.
“I’ve been doing public works projects for the City of Sequim for 20 years, and I can say this is the most beneficial one I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Reick added that all of their major subcontractors will be local to Clallam County.
“When this job is done,” Klontz said, “we’re hoping it’s a showcase for others looking to build a complete street.”
Construction began in the Sequim Avenue and Fifth Avenue and Fir Street intersections a few days prior to the groundbreaking and will continue alternating there between day and night in the next few weeks, Reick said.
Interwest Construction will have flaggers in the road along with detour signs.
Drivers can expect the eastbound lane to be closed throughout most of construction but access to school facilities, the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, businesses and residents will be available year-round.
Residents can continue to sign up for updates online at sequimwa.gov by going to the “Notify Me” page and registering for Fir Street Construction under the Alert Center with options for email and text notifications.
For more information, call Sequim Public Works Department at 360-683-4908.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.