PORT ANGELES – The passage of I-976, the $30 car tab initiative, means that millions of dollars may have to be cut from Department of Transportation projects in Washington state, including here in Clallam County.

Statewide, the initiative is passing by a margin of 56% to 44%. Clallam County voters are passing it by a narrow 51% to 49%. Interestingly, our neighbors in Jefferson County are rejecting the I-976 by a whopping 17% margin.

What will this mean to DOT projects such as the Morse Creek safety project and the Elwha Bridge project on Highway 101? We put the question to DOT spokesperson Tina Werner.

“Governor Inslee gave direction to the department to postpone projects that are not currently underway. So specifically this applies to the construction of capital expansion projects, but we don’t have a list yet of what projects specifically that would include. I can tell you though that the this direction does not include fish passage, preservation or specific safety-related projects at this time.”

The Governor’s hold on Capital Expansion Projects would include projects such as widening a road to increase traffic capacity. Morse Creek is a safety project and Elwha Bridge would seemingly fall under the heading of a preservation project, so it sounds like they would not be included in the Governor’s hold.

“I can’t comment for sure on the status of the Elwha River Bridge replacement project, but what I can say is, we are well aware of the needs that we have projects that we want to see continue to move forward. We have two hot safety-related projects right now in the Clallam and Jefferson County area, specifically being Morse Creek and then the other one at 104 and Shine, but it all comes down to dollars and cents. But we are going to be doing everything that we can to providing as much clarity as to how this affects the current list of projects that will be impacted by that and update our employees and the public as far as what this means in terms of our state transportation system moving forward.”

It’s unclear what affect the Governor’s hold might have on the Highway 101 Corridor project east of Sequim, which has not been funded beyond the current planning stage.

Figures provided by Werner indicate the projected loss of funds earmarked for specific DOT projects are estimated to be close to $2 billion through the year 2025.

Assuming it passes, the measure will not take effect until December 5.