Clallam County commissioners discuss Deer Park Road detour, Highway 101 widening

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Deer Park Road detour will open sometime in the next two weeks, slowing traffic on U.S. Highway 101 to 25 mph, the three Clallam County commissioners said.

That was one announcement from Mike Doherty, Mike Chapman and Jim McEntire when they spoke to about 80 people at the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday.

Sales tax revenue

They also said Clallam County is gleaning sales tax revenue from the Highway 101 widening project and that marijuana businesses may be required to get conditional-use permits.

Two projects on U.S. 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim prompted the most questions from audience members: the 3.5-mile state Department of Transportation widening project between Shore and Kitchen-Dick roads and the Clallam County Deer Park Road underpass project.

Crews are almost ready to close Highway 101 to traffic while an underpass is installed, Chapman said.

A detour that cuts across the road’s curve will reduce traffic speeds to 25 mph, he said.

Commissioners didn’t know the exact date for the temporary redirection of the busy highway, which currently has a 45 mph speed limit.

Chapman said the slowdown on the curve is likely to create backups during times of heavy traffic.

“It’s going to be a mess, but it’s only for five or six weeks,” he said.

Construction on the widening project began April 1 by Scarsella Bros. of Kent, the contractor that won the $27.1 million state contract, and is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Business leaders told commissioners they were worried the construction would reduce the number of visitors in the area.

But instead of losing room tax revenues during the past year, the county saw increased revenues both in lodging tax and in sales tax revenues, commissioners said.

The widening project didn’t hurt lodging tax receipts and did increase sales tax revenues, they said, without providing specific numbers.

“The county has benefited a lot,” Doherty said.

State law requires companies to pay sales tax in the counties where they take delivery of material, so the county has acquired revenue from the project, commissioners said, although they added that the sales tax increase cannot be broken down to determine how much came specifically from businesses directly associated with the construction.

Marijuana business

Although they won’t ban marijuana businesses in Clallam County, they are aware that some residents don’t want bright lights and high-security fences next door.

“Marijuana is now a legal product. That implies it is legal to grow,” McEntire said.

The state allows counties and cities to decide whether growing or dispensary businesses can operate in their jurisdictions.

“Moratorium is not in my lexicon,” McEntire said.

Commissioners said there may be some regulations, such as conditional-use permits, created to ensure that the businesses are located in appropriate places.

“I support the public decision 100 percent. The state has created a process, and I am comfortable with that process,” Chapman said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 04. 2014 5:57PM
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