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Citizen Group Criticizes Blyn Traffic Plan

The following was published in the Sequim Gazette, on Wed, Feb 9, 2011
by Amanda Winters

A preliminary plan to connect East Sequim Bay Road to U.S. Highway 101 will move forward slowly and differently as stakeholders try to address both the access concerns of neighbors and the safety concerns of the James-town S’Klallam Tribe.

The plan, developed by the tribe and Parametrix consulting firm, met opposition when revealed to the public at an October 2010 open house.

Annette Nesse, the tribe’s chief operations officer, said the project concept evolved during attempts to slow down and reroute traffic from Old Blyn Highway.

Though the speed limit was lowered and a crosswalk was placed on the road, drivers still were going too fast, making the stretch dangerous for pedestrians visiting the tribe’s east campus, she said.

To give traffic going to and from the Miller Peninsula a different highway access point, the plan would move East Sequim Bay Road, turn it toward the east to cross Old Blyn Highway and connect to Highway 101.

Several indirect left-hand turns are included in the plan, along with a new connection between Chicken Coop Road and Zaccardo Road, to bring both to one intersection with Highway 101.

The project involves the tribe, Clallam County and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Opposition

Nesse said about 80 people attended the October open house and many returned the comment forms provided for feedback.

“We had a lot of folks concerned about what we were proposing,” she said, listing the indirect left-hand turns as a main sticking point.

Nesse said people also seemed surprised to hear about the proposed $30 million project, which wasn’t the tribe’s intent.

“When we announced the project it seemed like they thought it was a done deal,” she said.

So far the project has no approval, no permits and no funding.

Francisco de la Cruz, who lives off East Sequim Bay Road, said he and others felt blindsided by the open house.

“The tribe spent years on the project before telling their neighbors,” he said.

Group forms

Sequim Safety First, a group of homeowners off East Sequim Bay Road, formed in opposition to the project.

De la Cruz said the group wants to see the tribe fix their safety issues sensibly. Spending $30 million isn’t the smart way, he said.

“Thirty million dollars could benefit more than just 600 tribal members,” he said.

At the Oct. 26, 2010, meeting of the Clallam County commissioners, de la Cruz submitted a letter on behalf of the group outlining their concerns and asking for the county to abandon the project and look for other ways to improve safety on the tribe’s east campus.

Creating a new intersection at Highway 101 wouldn’t be safe without a stoplight, he said.

In order to stop the project, the commissioners must reject it or the funding must be blocked, he said.

Back to the drawing board?

Nesse said organizers have heard neighboring residents loud and clear.

The tribe is stepping back and reviewing comments to find a way to resolve safety and mobility issues while being respectful of public opinion, she said.

The next step is to hold a meeting between tribal leaders, WSDOT, county staff and Parametrix to see what can be changed, she said.

Nesse created a page on the tribe’s website devoted to the project so she can post updates and keep people informed.

To learn more go to www.jamestowntribe.org/announce/annce_sequim_bay_project.htm or call Nesse at 681-4620.

Reach the Author,  Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

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