PORT ANGELES — Support has poured in for barriers on U.S. Highway 101 at the Morse Creek curve east of Port Angeles.
The Bedinger family of Sequim has appealed to the state Legislature for improvements along Morse Creek after Brooke Bedinger, 19, died in a collision while riding her motorcycle on the Morse Creek curve June 21.
A memorial to her still stands by the side of the highway.
State Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, is asking the state Department of Transportation to install a “boulevard” style barrier — a raised, landscaped corridor divider — between U.S. Highway 101’s eastbound and westbound lanes at Morse Creek.
Chapman plans to submit a budget proviso to the 2019-21 state spending plan for a $5 million divider along the Morse Creek curve.
Clallam County commissioners agreed Jan. 21 to sign letters encouraging state lawmakers to approve funding for improvements at the curve along Morse Creek, where there have been 249 crashes, including four fatal vehicle crashes and seven motorcycle crashes, since 2008.
The Port Angeles Business Association (PABA) also sent a letter to Chapman encouraging the construction of the median.
The median Chapman envisions would cover the length of the curve from milepost 251.68 to 252.80, and could be built this year if state lawmakers and local communities back the efforts for a barrier, he said.
Chapman also wants to install corridor improvements on U.S. Highway 101 from Sequim to Blyn, particularly in the areas of Palo Alto Road and Whitefeather Way leading to John Wayne Marina.
Brooke’s family, including her mother Kim Bedinger, father Don Bedinger and brother Chase Bedinger went to Olympia to discuss with Chapman the barrier proposal for Morse Creek.
The family said they received 30 minutes of the representative’s time, and that he was supportive of their efforts.
In addition to letters from county commissioners and PABA, dozens of other businesses and organizations from Sequim to Port Angeles are writing letters of support for improvements along Morse Creek.
“It’s really overwhelming,” Kim Bedinger said.
“As long as something is done to make it safe, that’s the end goal.”
One letter includes support from several emergency responders, including Olympic Ambulance Service, Clallam County 2 Fire Rescue, Clallam County Fire District 4 and Port Angeles Fire Department.
Part of the letter reads: “The dangers at Morse Creek are very real. The severity of the curve, the amount of traffic (including tourists), the speed and the turn lanes are problematic enough for the road to be difficult to navigate during typical conditions …
“Barriers in the center line are only a start to improving the safety of a road as poorly designed as Morse Creek; however, methodical implementation of safety measures is moving in the right direction.”
The Bedingers said Chapman should know if the funding for the divider is approved by mid-March.
The Bedinger family asks members of the community to send letters of support to Chapman via mail or email by Feb. 11 so he may show the amount of support for the budget proviso.
Letters can be mailed to Rep. Mike Chapman c/o Sarah Temples, House of Representatives, 132-B Legislative building, PO Box 40600, Olympia, WA, 98504, or emailed to [email protected].
A group called “Barriers for Brookie/Morse Creek” meets once a month to garner support for the barriers.
The group is planning fundraising events for a memorial fund in Brooke’s name, a fund established at First Federal Bank.
Kim Bedinger said the memorial fund will give back to children in the community by, for example, creating scholarships for children, because Brooke loved children and being around them.
To learn more, visit the “Barriers for Brookie/Morse Creek” Facebook page.