A truck heads into a corner on Black Diamond Road on Monday. Clallam County will widen and straighten the road south of Port Angeles next year. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

A truck heads into a corner on Black Diamond Road on Monday. Clallam County will widen and straighten the road south of Port Angeles next year. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County approves safety upgrades for Black Diamond Road

Straighter curves and a bicycle/pedestrian path are planned to be constructed in 2017.

PORT ANGELES — Black Diamond Road will be made safer for drivers, bicyclists and walkers in 2017.

Clallam County commissioners Tuesday approved paperwork for a $600,000 safety upgrade to a three-fourths-mile section of the twisty, narrow road south of Port Angeles.

Crews next year will straighten curves, widen shoulders, flatten slopes and construct a bicycle/pedestrian path between Wellman and Hoare roads, according to a commissioner-approved project prospectus and local agency agreement.

The posted speed limit will remain 35 mph.

“The intent of the project is to improve the curves, although we’re not making a 40-foot-wide, 55 mph road out of this,” Tyler told commissioners in a work session last week.

“We’re just improving the curves, widening the shoulders and putting the 4-to-1 slopes on, which we call recoverable slopes. It improves the clear zone considerably, and it ends up with a bicycle/pedestrian trail on one side.”

A short multipurpose trail exists on lower Black Diamond Road near Hillcrest Baptist Church.

“You’ll see what we’ve done in the past, and it will be a continuation of that,” Tyler had told commissioners Sept. 26.

Without further discussion, Commissioners Mike Chapman and Mark Ozias voted Tuesday to approve the local agency agreement and project prospectus with the state Department of Transportation.

Commissioner Bill Peach was absent Tuesday because he was serving with the state Board of Natural Resources in Olympia.

According to the local agency agreement, Clallam County will pay $42,000 of the $60,000 preliminary engineering cost.

All told, Clallam County will spend $332,000 on the project. Federal funds will account for the remaining $268,000, according to the prospectus.

Later this fall, Clallam County Public Utility District crews will begin moving electrical, telephone and cable lines along the affected section of Black Diamond Road.

“We won’t remove any road surfaces until we get into 2017,” Tyler said.

“So it would be spring of 2017 before we went to the actual construction.”

In other board action, commissioners Tuesday scheduled an Oct. 18 public hearing on proposed changes to county speed limit policy.

The draft policy eliminates an annual citizen petition process to change the speed limit on a given road.

The new policy allows speed limits to be changed at any time of the year, provided there is a scientific study of traffic volumes, wrecks and other data, Tyler told the full board last week.

“I want to make it really clear that it does not remove in any way the public’s ability to access us or advise us or complain about speed limits or anything,” Tyler said.

“We’re still open to that, just like we are with road changes or anything else.”

The policy amendments were recommended by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The hearing will begin at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 18 in Room 160 at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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