Clallam County: 2-phase approach for Towne Road

Commissioners want trail atop levee

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners want to see a two-phase plan for a two-lane road and a separate 6-foot trail atop the Towne Road Levee in Sequim, the second of four possible options discussed earlier this fall.

The three commissioners asked county staff during their Monday work session to develop a plan that provides access for emergency services and tsunami evacuation along the route plus a secure gate and a funding plan since they don’t know where the money would come from.

“We are $1 million short for the preferred alternative,” Commissioner Mark Ozias said. “Even if we close that gap to $500,000, we have a real gap.”

Ozias asked if there is a way to use state Recreation and Conservation Office funding to accomplish a component of the project while commissioners finalize a decision and design.

“How can we stair-step this project using (Recreation and Conservation Office) dollars first?” he asked.

Joe Donisi, assistant county engineer, said it is matter of what people want versus the cost.

“There’s only two ways to close that gap — new revenue and lower costs,” Donisi said. “We could look at the original design, using less asphalt or chipsealing. We haven’t started that gap-closing process yet.”

Donisi suggested it could be another opportunity to tap into Real Estate Excise Tax funds.

The Lower Dungeness Floodplain Restoration Project has reconnected and restored about 175 acres of former floodplain with the Dungeness River.

It has included the removal and reconstruction of about 2.2 miles of new levee, generally divided into three segments: the North Levee (0.3 miles), the Towne Road Levee (0.8 miles) — the only one considered for vehicle use — and the River’s Edge Levee (1.1 miles).

County staff hosted a Sept. 26 meeting in Sequim to update the public on the status of the four alternatives for the surfacing and future use of the Towne Road Levee segment.

The first would build a two-lane road with 10-foot lanes and 4-foot shoulders to connect the existing Towne Road to East Anderson Road. That had been the original design concept pursued since 2015. The estimated cost is $3.91 million.

The second would build a two-lane road and a separate 6-foot trail surface and include 10-foot-wide lanes with 1-foot-wide shoulders and 2-foot-wide guard rails. The estimated cost is $3.75 million.

The third would build a one-lane, 16-foot road surface southbound and a 12-foot-wide pedestrian trail surface. The estimated cost is $3.08 million.

The fourth would build a pedestrian trail surface centered on the levee. It would require the placement of a single-use driveway access to accommodate an existing landowner. The estimated cost is $754,000.

Ozias said he wanted to reaffirm that Recreation and Conservation Office money would be available for any of the options they discussed.

“My concern about option two is how to sequence these investments,” Ozias said. “Because it’s not easy to come up with additional dollars to complete this project. I’m pretty nervous about the size of the gap.

“These dollars are important. I am very interested in seeing what the staging or sequencing of this project would look like,” he said.

“If the project cost is $3.5 million and $1 million is the gap, that still will take several years of reallocating money or not doing the project. Think of that time gap,” Ozias continued.

Vandalism and people driving on the levee also are concerns, he said.

“So a phased plan needs to be realistic regarding steps and investments to allow appropriate emergency services access and a tsunami evacuation route short of a full road we don’t have the money for.”

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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