Construction to redo Fir Street won’t begin until spring 2019. Over 18 months, the road will temporarily turn one-way and one lane while adding a traffic light at the intersection of Fir Street and Fifth Avenue. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Construction to redo Fir Street won’t begin until spring 2019. Over 18 months, the road will temporarily turn one-way and one lane while adding a traffic light at the intersection of Fir Street and Fifth Avenue. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Fir Street reconstruction likely set for April 2019

Anticipated reconstruction on West Fir Street is on hold — again.

City of Sequim officials report the anticipated January 2019 start date to reconstruct the road from Sequim Avenue to Fifth Avenue for 18 months is awaiting federal and state approval.

“It’s probably realistic to look at April (to start),” said David Garlington, Sequim Public Works director.

By the end of this week, he anticipates final plans and construction estimates will be ready for the State Department of Transportation to review per grant requirements.

Once that step is complete, city staff plan to advertise the approximate $4.5-$5 million reconstruction project.

“Indications from the state show it should be a quick turnaround and come through in January,” Garlington said.

“If we can advertise by the end of January for four to six weeks, and go through the process and paperwork, then we’ll probably start in April.”

City officials look to redo the bumpy stretch near the main Sequim School District campus by reconstructing water, sewer and irrigation lines and adding stormwater lines while reconstructing the pavement.

One of the impacts for drivers and residents includes Fir Street becoming a one-way, one lane westbound roadway during construction.

Garlington said it will be up to contractors what sections they start with and shut down during the year-and-a-half of work.

“The intent is to keep Fir Street open as much as possible,” he said.

Drivers can use Second, Third, and Fourth Avenue intersections to turn.

Construction impact

Not much has changed in the scope of work since the project was delayed from starting last summer, said city engineer Matt Klontz.

City staff previously said it was delayed due to paperwork issues regarding right-of-way acquisitions, which Klontz said has been a time-consuming process.

Sequim City Councilors unanimously approved the final portion of right-of-way purchases on Nov. 26 from the Sequim School District. The Federal Highway Administration grant funds reimburse the city 86.5 percent of the easement costs or about $176,400. Part of that purchase includes Sequim High School’s softball fields, which will be impacted by the project.

The total amount of the city’s right-of-way purchase is $375,000, including right-of-way professional services and associated title insurance and recording fees, Klontz said. Total cost for land easement purchases was about $250,000, he said.

Improvements on Fir Street project widen the roadway to 45 feet from Sequim Avenue to Fourth Avenue and 53 feet wide from Fourth to Fifth Avenues including two 5-foot-wide bike lanes from Sequim to Fourth, and two 6-foot-wide bike lanes from Fourth to Fifth.

Klontz said a traffic light is still planned for the intersection of Fir Street and Fifth Avenue, and a “pedestrian activated rectangular rapid flashing beacons” will be mounted to signs at Sequim Avenue and Fir Street to indicate a pedestrian is crossing.

Construction on Sequim School District’s central kitchen and demolition of the Sequim Community School are anticipated to be complete by the time construction on Fir Street begins.

Part of the project opens up a staff- and disabled-only parking lot between the district’s bus drop-off area and Helen Haller Elementary’s main parking lot to be one-way with its only entrance on Fir Street and exit into the main lot.

Once complete, existing parking lots and fields will move 4-5 feet and include landscaping buffers.

Bus parking will remain unaffected, city staff said.

The Sequim Lavender Growers Association’s Street Fair for the Sequim Lavender Festival already moved last summer to Carrie Blake Community Park to accommodate construction projects. Organizers said vendors and visitors liked the change.

Along with the right-of-way decision, city councilors also unanimously agreed to accept a loan and grant agreement with the State Department of Ecology’s Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund for up to $957,000 for sewer improvements on Fir Street. It includes a $769,715 loan over 20 years at 1.4 percent interest and $66,750 in forgivable principal, along with a $120,535 grant from the Centennial Clean Water Program.

For more information about the Fir Street project, call Sequim Public Works at 360-683-4908.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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