By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the $176,500 purchase of 0.47 acres of land and 0.05 acres of temporary construction easement from Terry Mills, and the $26,750 purchase of 0.13 acres of cinema property owned by Wenatchee Productions Corp.
Once completed late next year or in early 2014, motorists will take the underpass and make a “big, smooth curve” to access the highway instead of turning left from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive, County Engineer Ross Tyler said.
“It’s kind of one smooth motion,” Tyler said in a Monday telephone interview.
The county will build a two-lane road with a 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path under the highway northwest of the theater.
This week’s land purchases close a right-of-way acquisition phase that began in early 2011.
“Nice work accomplishing that complicated task,” Commissioner Jim McEntire told Tyler in Tuesday’s meeting.
The total project cost is $9.2 million, about 80 percent of the funds for which comes from federal transportation programs.
Clallam County is kicking in $2 million from real estate excise taxes.
In addition to the underpass, the rest stop and scenic viewpoint on the westbound side of the highway will be improved with additional truck parking and a small restroom.
The project will go out to bid in late November or December.
“We definitely are going to turn dirt in 2013,” Tyler said.
David Evans and Associates designed the underpass under a $1.1 million contract with the county.
The new county road will go under the highway and loop around the back of C’est Si Bon restaurant and put westbound travelers onto an acceleration lane at Buchanan Drive.
People going east from the restaurant or surrounding neighborhood will take the underpass and merge with the highway on a new acceleration lane at Deer Park Road.
The highway will retain its existing grade and alignment at the top of the Morse Creek valley.
During construction, highway traffic will be bumped onto a state-owned vacant lot at the crest of the S-curve.
The project was prompted by wrecks and delays associated with left turns onto the highway from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive.
Four miles east of the county project, the state Department of Transportation will begin to widen U.S. Highway 101 between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads between Port Angeles and Sequim next year.
The $67 million, 3.5-mile state project will give motorists two lanes of travel in both directions and a 32-foot median to reduce the risk of head-on wrecks.
State Department of Transportation Project Manager Steve Fuchs has said the widening project will commence this winter with construction of a new bridge over McDonald Creek.
The state will open bids for the widening project Oct. 31, Fuchs said in a recent interview.
It is scheduled to be finished in October 2014.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at email@example.com.