By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The three commissioners today will consider a quitclaim deed to convey a short section of the soon-to-be-opened Elwha Valley Road back to the tribe.
The federally funded,
$9 million road will become the reservation’s primary access route when it opens next month.
Commissioners raised no objections while discussing the deed Monday.
The new road will connect Kacee Way at the western edge of the Port Angeles city limit to Stratton Road on the reservation.
Motorists leaving the reservation will climb a hill from the Elwha River Casino and join Kacee Way, which parallels the Olympic Discovery Trail on a city-owned right of way, and come to an intersection with the existing Lower Elwha Road just west of William R. Fairchild International Airport.
The new road will open on or shortly after Nov. 20, provided the commissioners vote to establish the upper section of Elwha Valley Road as a county road.
The entire road is striped and fully drivable, but the section where it leaves Kacee Way and drops into the reservation lacks the design geometry to meet county standards, County Engineer Ross Tyler has said.
The quitclaim deed conveys that section back to the tribe.
“They don’t have the money to do it right now, so we’ll take [the county road] to the limit on the city right of way,” Tyler told commissioners Monday.
“We’ll quitclaim that property back to them.”
Tribal officials have said the new access road was needed to increase safety, reduce response time for emergency vehicles and provide the tribe with an adequate evacuation route during a tsunami or other natural disaster,
Currently, the only access to the reservation is the narrow shoulder-free Lower Elwha Road.
Including shoulders, the new road is 34 feet wide.
Commissioners had a light agenda Monday because of a marathon round of budget meetings with elected officials and department heads.
Another series of budget meetings will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, with a short break for the business meeting at 10 a.m.
The budget meetings will conclude Thursday.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.