By Pepper Fisher

SEQUIM – There’s appears to be some very real progress in the reopening to traffic of Towne Road near Sequim. On Monday, County Commissioners directed county staff to bring them a bid package proposal on April 9. If commissioners approve it, the county will put out a call for bids with area construction companies.

Director of Community Development, Bruce Emery, estimates the cost of building a two-way, two lane road and a foot path to be in the neighborhood of $2.2 million. That’s not a lot of money for a road project these days, but Emery says they found a way to widen the levee surface and cut back on costs from an earlier design.

“We discovered that we had sufficient width if we graded the road in one direction, and we also achieved being able to divert storm water away from the restored flood plain side by sloping it to the upland side. And in so doing, we’ve been able to gain ground in terms of available surface, to be able to accommodate both the roadway and the planned trail surface, and save some money at the same.”

Emery says the plan is for the roadway and the trail to be open 24/7 all year round, hopefully eliminating some of the concerns many residents had that the roadway would be gated.

If there is one possible hitch to the apparent progress of getting the road built. It comes in the form of a request from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to put a 3-year pause on the project.

In a letter sent to County Commissioners in January, the Tribal Council requested the pause to give them time to further study the need for an open roadway vs. the option of leaving the levee to pedestrian-only access.

For now, commissioners on Monday made it clear they are inclined to go forward with the plan on schedule. Two factors that are playing into the decision to get the road built sooner rather than later have been the calls from first responders to get the road opened for speedier response times to area neighborhoods, and the fact that a $1.6 million grant from the State Department of Ecology will expire at the end of this year.