PORT ANGELES — The city plans to study possible short-term and long-term bypass routes around the downtown area — as well as how to pay for a bypass.
The City Council last week accepted a recommendation from the Port Angeles Forward Committee to add the study to the city’s capital facilities plan and make funding for a U.S. 101 bypass a priority in the next budget.
A bypass around downtown has been discussed by city officials — without progress — for at least 25 years.
City Councilman Larry Williams, who also serves on Port Angeles Forward, said the short-term route would use existing streets while the long-term route could go south somewhere in the Deer Park area and emerge to the west at Lairds Corner where U.S. Highway 101 and state Highway 112 intersect.
“We’ve beat on this issue as far as we can go,” Williams said.
Mayor Gary Braun added, “Hopefully this study will move the effort forward and it won’t just sit on the shelf.”
Deputy Community Development Director Nathan West said, “State funding requires listing the project in the city’s Capital Facilities Plan. We feel it’s time to do that.”
The Port Angeles Cross Town Route has been “the primary issue of discussion” during the past five Port Angeles Forward committee meetings, according to a Dec. 6 letter to the committee from West and Public Works Director Glenn Cutler.
“In order to follow through with a cross town route, funding must be provided to conduct a transportation study by qualified traffic engineers,” the letter said.
The study would identify and evaluate potential routes.
Funding funding would have to be identified once a route was chosen, the letter said.
If the study does not identify an acceptable long-term route, then it should address short-term alternatives, the letter said.
Short term solutions to bypassing downtown listed in the letter included:
Former Port Angeles planning commissioner Len Rasmussen has floated the idea of redesignating U.S. 101 through downtown Port Angeles to the Tumwater Truck Route, but found no groundswell of support for the idea.
In September 2004, Tyler Ahlgren and Ed Tuttle proposed an alternative route to move U.S. 101 along a new road that would include five bridges and a tunnel under homes north of Park Avenue.