Contract inked for construction of connector at center of Whidbey

Preliminary surveying and preparations for a road project that’s been in the works for over a decade is set to begin next week.

The Board of Island County Commissioners signed a contract with Trimaxx Construction Inc. on Tuesday for $4.046 million to build Oakes Road.

Public Works Director Bill Oakes said the conceptual phase for the Houston to Race Road connector on Central Whidbey began in 2006 to address the lack of alternative to State Highway 525 on that section of road.

“It’s a section of the island where there’s really no viable alternative to the state highway and it’s right in the middle of island,” he said.

“So if there’s an accident or blockage of the state highway, it cuts the island in half.”

The 1.5-mile road will be paved, two lanes and include a section with a rain garden median, retaining walls to minimize wetland impacts and a roadside natural stormwater system to treat and filter the road runoff, according to the contract.

Oakes said the rain garden median and filtration system designs are unique, and the new road will mark the first time the county has extensively used those methods for a road project.

He said the design is meant to recharge the aquifer faster than traditional water detention methods. The technology also promotes the growth of more plants, which are vital in stormwater filtration.

“It more closely mimics the existing land use out there, which is primarily forest,” he said.

A project open house is set for 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, June 27 at Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Station No. 53, 1164 Race Road, Coupeville.

The county commissioners chose to name the road after Oakes last August.

“It guarantees a quality road if you name it after your engineer,” Commissioner Jill Johnson said during a work session.

Oakes tried to suggest other names, but the commissioners unanimously approved Oakes Road.

“The name is the choice of the board of commissioners,” said Oakes.

“I prefer to call it the Race to Houston connector, but I’m honored the board chose the name.”

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