This week, Interwest Construction workers plan to complete underground utility work before moving onto sidewalk work along West Fir Street. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

This week, Interwest Construction workers plan to complete underground utility work before moving onto sidewalk work along West Fir Street. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Fir Street rehab in full swing for school start in September

Superintendent seeks transportation plan by end of August

With school starting soon, parents, students and staff can expect bumpy rides and more detours around the West Fir Street Rehabilitation Project.

Started last May, the $6.2 million project spanning Sequim Avenue to Fifth Avenue will continue to impact nearby schools and homes through next summer, City of Sequim staff said.

Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, said her staff have been “excellently prepared for what was coming” with construction in front of the Carroll C. Kendall unit.

“But the reality is you never know how you’re going to get into work each morning,” Budke said.

“I feel worse for our parents than us working here. Where you drop off your kid in the morning could change in the afternoon.”

Dr. Rob Clark, Sequim School District interim superintendent, said after the school board meeting Monday that district staff intend to share a plan with parents for student transportation — buses and drop-offs/pick-ups — by Aug. 28.

Matt Klontz, Sequim city engineer, said Monday that Interwest Construction will focus on sidewalk work in September and October in front of the schools.

A temporary asphalt will go on the road after that, he said, with final pavement going down sometime tentatively in early summer of 2020.

This week, construction crews will finish grounding utilities, Klontz said, and that stormwater and irrigation leaks that caused flooding in years prior should be repaired.

Klontz said utilities run to the former Sequim Community School site for any potential expansions.

Where to go

As for traversing Fir Street, city staff recommend using neighboring roads instead.

“We’re going to emphasize people use Alder Street to go east-west bound,” Klontz said in an interview. “It’s going to be much smoother and to turn into (Helen Haller Elementary or the Boys & Girls Club), use Third or Fourth Avenue.”

He told school officials Monday that North Second Avenue is mostly closed, but parents of Olympic Peninsula Academy students can park and go through the street as usual.

School board director Jim Stoffer asked for a dry run for school buses so they can see how traveling goes. Clark agreed and said district staff will set it up prior to school starting.

Where pedestrians will go hasn’t been announced yet, with “Sidewalks Closed” signs posted along the street.

Budke said in an interview she’s concerned where many of the club’s members will walk, particularly when the weather becomes rainy.

However, she said construction crews have kept her updated on projects, which club staff share with parents/guardians online and in-person.

Budke said if people need to park, the club has ample parking on the west and north side of its building after the field has been mowed.

Prior to school starting in early September, Klontz said he wants to coordinate with all of the school district’s afternoon staff, who lead bus and vehicle pick-up.

More on the project

Construction on the West Fir Street Rehabilitation Project began May 13 in an effort to provide 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 North Fifth Avenue and West Fir Street.

Klontz previously said the road has an has engineer-rated low pavement condition index of 26 out of 100 — considered one of the worst among city streets.

Residents can continue to sign up for updates online at www.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 mnash@sequimgazette.com.

Reporter Conor Dowley contributed to this report. Reach him at cdowley@sequimgazette.com.

City and school officials look to plan pedestrian traffic and vehicle pick-ups/drop-offs along West Fir Street prior to school starting Sept. 4 as construction continues. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

City and school officials look to plan pedestrian traffic and vehicle pick-ups/drop-offs along West Fir Street prior to school starting Sept. 4 as construction continues. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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