The survey crew that appeared last week along U.S. Highway 101 between Shore and Kitchen-Dick roads doesn't mean construction work on the long-awaited widening project is imminent.
Other than those surveyors, drivers will see nothing on the project for a long time, said Steve Fuchs, project engineer from the state Department of Transportation's Tumwater office.
"The next biggest thing is we are trying for an open house in the spring or early summer to give people an idea of where we are," he said.
The $50 million project will widen 2.5 miles of U.S. Highway 101 to four lanes between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads.
It includes spending $19 million in the July 2009 to June 2011 biennium for preliminary engineering, environmental work and buying rights of way.
Another $22 million is budgeted for July 2011 through June 2013 for the actual widening, followed by $9 million in July 2013 through June 2015 to complete the project.
"We have a lot of work to do before we're ready to go to construction," Fuchs said.
"Our survey crew is collecting data for us. We are very early, in the preliminary design phase."
Fuchs said engineers use data on the project's expected impacts to evaluate construction alternatives and complete the environmental assessment.
It looks at air quality, noise levels, wetlands, transportation and other elements.
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