By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The three commissioners will revisit the 2013-2018 transportation improvement program Monday and consider adopting it Tuesday.
More than two years ago, the county approved a road improvement district to pay for the widening and paving of Striped Peak Road west of Port Angeles.
Area residents, many of whom expressed support for the safety upgrade in 2010, would have paid for the $664,000 project through a portion of their property taxes over the next two decades.
One resident sued the county, saying the junior taxing district was formed illegally, and the project remains unfunded in the proposed six-year road planning document.
The Clallam County Planning Commission, a panel that advises commissioners on land-use matters and long-range planning, voted Oct. 17 to recommend the plan with three modifications.
One suggested change was to restructure the Striped Peak district using a cost-benefit method, meaning those who would benefit the most from the road improvement would pay more.
Other suggestions in other areas were:
■ Study the prioritization of upgrades to Pioneer and Ennis Creek roads in Gales Addition for the safety of students walking to and from Roosevelt School.
■ Review traffic policing funding in the county budget because the annual cost “may be out of proportion” to the actual hours the Sheriff’s Office spends on traffic policing, according to the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting.
“The road department does not take a position on either one of these recommendations at this time,” County Engineer Ross Tyler said.
“That’s going to be something that board is going to have to consider now, later, whenever.”
Commissioner Mike Chapman noted that the Striped Peak issue is still in active litigation.
“So any decisions, any changes, anything we do differently, I would recommend that it be vetted by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office before we make any decisions on that,” Chapman said.
“The prosecuting attorney has been advising the board and the road department. It has not been advising the Planning Commission,” he added.
“So they would have made decisions or possible recommendations outside the advice of the prosecutor.”
The Striped Peak project would pave a 0.41-mile stretch of the lower road with 2-inch-thick asphalt and widen it to 24 feet.
Striped Peak Road has a blind corner and has experienced growing volumes of residential, recreational and logging traffic.
This year’s proposed transportation plan reflects the impending loss of funding from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which helps rural counties like Clallam and Jefferson compensate for lost timber revenue, unless it is reauthorized by Congress.
The proposed road plan lists 25 projects totaling $24.6 million as funded and 40 projects totaling $35.2 million as unfunded.
One person testified in a public hearing on the six-year transportation plan.
Ed Bowen of Clallam Bay said there should be a guardrail on Hoko-Ozette Road on the West End of the county.
Hoko-Ozette Road, which is highly susceptible to storm damage, has $1.2 million worth of improvements listed as unfunded in the proposed 2013-2018 transportation plan.
“We’ve had three nights with ice on that section of road,” Bowen said.
“I need a guardrail there. Early this morning when I came through there, it was quite hazardous.”
Bowen said he opposes realigning the road farther away from the river because of the “huge dollar cost.”
“The only way I would change my mind is if there’s an active effort by government to get out there and at least talk to the people about what this means and get their suggestions,” he said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.