The proposed design for the U.S. Highway 101 widening project should make the notorious roadway safer and less congested, but it will inconvenience those who live along the new route.
The new design would require a two-mile drive plus a U-turn or "indirect left turn" to reach their homes, several residents told state Department of Transportation officials at a Thursday, Oct. 15, open house.
The officials responded that the design is less expensive than building interchanges, safer than allowing left turns across a four-lane roadway and achieves the goal of keeping traffic moving through what is now a bottleneck.
Construction is scheduled to begin by May 2012 and be completed by March 2014.
The $53.8 million project will widen about three miles of U.S. Highway 101 to four lanes between Kitchen-Dick Road and Shore Road and add a 40-foot median.
New McDonald bridge
The plan includes building another two-lane bridge over McDonald Creek for eastbound traffic and using the existing bridge for westbound traffic.
The widening from Shore Road east to Barr Road and from Barr Road east to Pierson Road will be south of the existing highway.
The widening will switch to the north side from Pierson Road east to Kitchen-Dick Road.
Drivers won't be allowed to cross the highway at Shore or Barr roads.
Current left turns and highway crossings from county roads will be replaced with "indirect left turns" or protected U-turns.
The new design includes six such turns - two between Shore and Barr roads, two between Sherburne and Pierson/Dryke roads, one for westbound traffic at Pierson Road and one for eastbound traffic at Kitchen-Dick Road.
People living north of the expanded highway will need to drive an additional two miles round trip to reach Sequim; those south of the highway will need do the same to reach Port Angeles.
Robert Murray, who lives on the highway's south side, said there are four intersections where drivers cross two lanes and the median into an ingress lane and they seem to work very well.
Diana Stewart, who lives between Barr and Shore roads, didn't like the idea of driving to Blue Mountain Road and making a U-turn to get home from Sequim.
The Rev. Jon Fodge from the Peninsula Evangelical Friends Church, located 1.5 miles from the highway on Barr Road, said the design will put more pressure on Barr Road.
Project manager Steve Fuchs said U.S. Highway 101 is a "rural expressway."
The expanded roadway was designed to handle forecasted traffic levels for the next 20 years, he said.
"This is the best plan we can come up with. We can't put in interchanges and stop lights. I think this is the best route we can give you right now," project team leader Dave Davis said.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Krista Hedstrom said left turns are bad enough now with two lanes and only would get worse with four lanes.
"There will be a huge reduction in collisions."
Project Web site:www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/us101/shoretokitchendick/
For more information: Steve Fuchs, project manager, P.O. Box 47375, Olympia, WA 98504-7375 Phone: 360-570-6660. E-mail: FuchsS@wsdot.wa.gov
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