City of Sequim receives $3.1 million for Fir Street reconstruction

SEQUIM — Plans to reconstruct Fir Street near several Sequim schools are moving forward after the city of Sequim received a $3.1 million grant.

The state Transportation Improvement Board made the announcement Friday after awarding 115 street and sidewalk improvement grants statewide for $121.2 million.

Matt Klontz, Sequim city engineer, said the project, which will reconstruct Fir Street from Sequim Avenue to Fifth Avenue, has been a priority for Sequim Public Works.

“It’s been a focus because the cost of it is not one the city can fund alone,” he said. “We need investment from elsewhere. We’ve been strategically looking for a partner.”

Construction timeframe

Fir Street construction could begin as soon as the end of 2017, Klontz said.

“That’s pretty optimistic but we like to set the bar to an earlier date to drive the project to the milestone,” he said. “There could be some things that could pop up that could delay through into early 2018.”

Fir Street is rated one of the worst in condition within the city limits. Overall, city streets are rated at a 70 according to the Pavement Condition Index, where city staff assess the condition of roadways, but this portion of Fir Street is rated a 26.

The Transportation Improvement Board lists the project total at about $4.436 million.

Klontz said this amount reflects prior work done, purchasing of right-of-way, construction management, design and physical construction.

Construction would include multiple parts such as travel lanes, bike lanes, new sidewalks, stormwater infrastructure, landscaping, pedestrian scale lighting, a traffic signal at Fifth Avenue and Fir Street, and a pedestrian signal at Sequim Avenue and Fir Street.

The city of Sequim will fund the remainder of the project through general funds, the Transportation Benefit District and other grant funding. In the proposed 2017 city budget, staff budgeted $793,500 for Fir Street improvements.

Klontz said the project proposes moving the north sidewalk, fencing, plantings and structures such as a dugout about 20 feet from the current road’s edge while leaving utilities available in appropriate places if the school district does develop new construction.

Fir Street construction could begin as soon as the end of 2017, Klontz said.

Klontz said that in the coming year, personnel will finalize the design, obtain temporary easements and clarify right-of-way rights with Sequim School District.

Klontz said in a previous story that no homes’ right-of-way will be purchased and driveways will be built into new sidewalks on the south side of the street.

In August, Sequim City Council members agreed to a local agency agreement with the state Department of Transportation to allow funding from the Federal Highway Administration for purchasing rights-of-way along the street.

The Highway Administration would cover 86.5 percent of the costs at $173,000 with a city match of 13.5 percent or $27,000 from its Transportation Impact Fees budget.

However, Klontz told the City Council on Nov. 14 at its regular meeting that the right-of-way process has been challenging due to the amount of regulations so city staff might suggest using that funding on another project to simplify the process.

Klontz said city staff plan to host an open house in the near future about this and other projects.

He said this grant is something they aimed hard for by familiarizing the Transportation Improvement Board with Sequim and the street’s issues by inviting the board’s engineers for a tour, asked for their feedback and presented at a board meeting prior to applying.

“We didn’t want the first time they heard about it when they read the application,” Klontz said.

For more information on the project, contact Sequim Public Works at 360-683-4908.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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