PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners agreed Tuesday to sign letters encouraging state lawmakers to approve funding for improvements on U.S. Highway 101 at Morse Creek and east of Sequim.
The letters — which are being sent to state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim; state Rep. Steve. Tharinger, D-Port Townsend; and state Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles — inform lawmakers of the county’s unanimous support for improvements on Highway 101.
One letter calls on the state Department of Transportation to install a raised median landscape corridor on Highway 101 around Morse Creek from milepost 251.68 to 252.8.
“We hope that you will make this an extremely high funding priority,” the letter says. “This is a very dangerous section of road that has had innumerable crashes during the past ten years, including four that were fatal.”
The second letter calls on the state Department of Transportation to give a high priority to beginning the design and engineering phase for corridor improvements on Highway 101 from Sequim to Blyn.
“The roads that lead into Palo Alto Road and to the John Wayne Marina are both difficult to navigate and at times very dangerous,” the letter says.
Chapman has said he will submit a budget proviso during this legislative session for a $5 million divider along Morse Creek.
According to the State Patrol, about 250 crashes occurred from 2007 to 2019 on the stretch between East Kolonels Way and just west of Deer Park Road.
The wrecks have included four fatal vehicle crashes since 2008 and seven motorcycle crashes.
Adding some sort of barrier has become a priority for many after 19-year-old Brook Bedinger died in a motorcycle crash on the highway curve June 21. A memorial to her remains maintained on the curve.
The Port Angeles Business Association also is sending a letter of support for the median.
“The Port Angeles Business Association commends and strongly supports your efforts to get state funding to install a boulevard-style median along the length of the accident-prone Morse Creek S-curve section of U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles,” the Tuesday letter to Chapman says. “PABA … has long been concerned about the dangers of the Morse Creek S-curve.”
The letter says that currently vehicles driving at highway speeds in that area are now separated by only centerline markers and a rumble strip. It also says PABA members agree with Chapman that a landscaped boulevard would be more effective and safer than using jersey barriers.
“Better safety improvements are long overdue, and their lack was tragically highlighted by Brooke Bedinger’s death,” the letter says.
“PABA’s board of directors and its membership believe it is urgent that the Morse Creek S-curve [median] be constructed as soon as possible, before we have another accident, or fatal crash, and that the necessary funds be allocated immediately for this critical project in a budget proviso to the 2019-21 state spending plan.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.