By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The state Department of Transportation announced Thursday that the limit will be lowered from 50 mph to 45 mph as soon as crews install new signs, expected by next Thursday.
The Jamestown S'Klallam tribe, whose main campus is in Blyn on the north side of Highway 101 — and which operates the 7 Cedars casino on the south side of the highway — requested the change.
Transportation conducted a traffic study last fall after the request from the tribe, said Claudia Bingham Baker, department spokeswoman.
Ron Allen, tribal chairman and CEO, said growth and increased activity in the Blyn community and the casino in recent years prompted the request.
“That traffic pattern just calls for a more cautious speed zone requirement,” Allen said.
The stretch of Highway 101 affected runs 1.35 miles from just about Corriea Road east to Chicken Coop Road, Bingham Baker said.
Annette Neese, chief operations officer with the tribe, said the tribe had requested in 2005 that the speed limit be cut from 55 mph to 45 mph.
At that time, the state and tribe compromised on a 50 mph limit, Neese said.
“We were able to convince them more recently it should have been 45 to begin with, and they agreed it was time to reduce it to 45 mph,” Neese said.
Neese said the tribe's rationale for the lower speed limit was based in part on the fact that the limit along Highway 101 along Discovery Bay is 45 mph.
The tribe feels Blyn is just as busy as the Discovery Bay area, if not more so, Neese explained.
“They are 45, so it made sense for us to request a reduction to 45 as well,” she said.
Allen said the goal is make driving the stretch of road safer for those who live and work in the Blyn area as well as for tourists and others driving through.
“Our point is not to impede local and tourist traffic, but just to improve the safety of traffic patterns that go through this end of the county,” Allen said.
Jerry Allen, CEO of 7 Cedars casino and brother of Ron Allen, sees the change as an improvement.
“Going down to 45 is a reasonable and sensible decision, and we look forward to the change,” he said.
The tribe also is seeking permits for a realignment of the Highway 101 intersections with Chicken Coop Road and Zaccardo Road, also to improve safety.
Neese said the tribe should hear by August whether it has received a $2 million federal grant to build the project.
The tribe would put up $1.5 million for the work.
The two existing accesses to Chicken Coop and Zaccardo roads from Highway 101 would be combined into one, Neese explained.
The project would include a right-turn acceleration lane for drivers traveling east, an acceleration lane in the median for those headed west and a deceleration lane for those turning off the highway.
A short tie road would be built to connect the tribe's south campus from Zaccardo Road to the new intersection.
Neese said the project could begin next summer if it gets fully funded.
“We look at this initiative with the speed limit and road improvements as a partnership agenda between the tribe, the state and the county [that is] beneficial to the community and our economy,” Allen said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.