SEQUIM — Those waiting for improvements on Simdars Road and nearby roads will have to wait for state funding to come together yet again.
Davor Gjurasic, the City of Sequim’s lobbyist, reported to the City Council on May 12 that funding packages with the $26 million U.S. 101 East Sequim Corridor Project didn’t go forward in the latest legislative session that ended on April 25.
Leaders with the city, Clallam County and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe look to build on and off ramps at the Simdars Road interchange on U.S. Highway 101, construct a frontage road for Palo Alto Road and Happy Valley Road along the highway to the new interchange, and add landscaping to the Sequim entryway.
Improvements on Simdars Road have been on hold since 2000, when the state abandoned finishing a westbound ramp due to funding.
Gjurasic said $1.3 million secured in 2019 from the state for the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin preliminary design work will carry through for a few years.
Because of COVID-19 and other issues, DOT did not start the engineering work along with other projects, but he expects work to begin after the delay.
To receive state funding, Gjurasic said the project would need to be included in a new revenue transportation package, which hasn’t been created since 2015.
He said packages were being worked on worth $18 billion in the Senate and $22 billion in the House of Representatives, both over 16-year funding spans that included the Sequim project.
“Neither package made it to the finish line, but in both of those revenue packages, we and our legislators got our project on those lists,” Gjurasic said. “Even though it wasn’t passed, everyone knows about our project.”
Council member Brandon Janisse testified twice to the House and Senate, and W. Ron Allen, CEO/chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, testified once.
Gjurasic said the coalition of the city, county and tribe has worked well together.
He told City Council members that if there’s a special legislative session before the end of the year, the project could be discussed again as part of a transportation package; if not then, it may not be discussed until capital projects are revisited in the 2023 session.
He said the 24th District’s state Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend, who serves as chair of the House Budget Committee, could help the project in some capacity and give the coalition time to continue to secure interest and funding.
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 [email protected].