It’s been more than 10 years since the U.S. Highway 101 bypass opened to traffic, and the state finally may be closing the books on the project. The state Department of Transportation is putting up for bid four parcels of surplus property plus property for the never-built rest stop at the Simdars Road interchange. The four parcels range from 599 square feet with a starting bid $1,000 to 2.78 acres with a starting bid of $224,000. All are unimproved and have no highway access. Bid opening is 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at DOT’s Real Estate Services Office, 243 Israel Road SE in Tumwater. The rest stop property isn’t up for bid yet but appraisal and review are complete and it is approved for disposal, said DOT spokesman Jamie Swift. DOT bought the four properties, although outside the project’s right of way, because they had become “uneconomic” to the property owners after the right of way was acquired, Swift said.
Bypass 10 years old The $18 million, 4.6-mile bypass opened Aug. 18, 1999. The 1993 Sequim Bypass Environmental Impact Statement estimated the project would reduce traffic volume on Washington Street by 50 percent. Lifelong Sequim resident Bill Littlejohn said Washington Street traffic, although bad now, hasn’t quite returned to pre-bypass levels. “But I wonder what the traffic would be like today if we didn’t have the bypass,” he said. Prior to the project’s ribbon-cutting, U.S. 101 Citizen Involvement Committee member Jerry Angiuli said that it had been discussed as far back as 1955. Businesses initially thought people would not come to Sequim if the highway bypassed, but traffic got so bad people weren’t stopping to shop anyway, Littlejohn said. DOT held three years of public hearings on four proposed routes before deciding on the current one south of town, Littlejohn said. “Everybody wanted it but not through their area. The chosen route worked out pretty well, it straightened out the road,” he said. Reach Brian Gawley at email@example.com.
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