Series of big-ticket county projects in works

Several new improvement projects are in the works for Central and South Whidbey.

Island County Assistant Engineer Kelly Ojala said the projects are still in the design process and many are included in a six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, meaning it will be a few years until construction begins.

A widening of the two-mile stretch of State Highway 20, between West Welcher and East Race roads, is slated to cost $2.7 million. Over $2 million of the project is being funded by a federal grant and is funded through 2024.

Ojala said it will take time to acquire the land surrounding the highway, get the permits and expand the shoulder by about four feet on each side.

“That’s one of the bigger projects that we have,” he said.

Down south, developments proposed for the Clinton Park and Ride and its neighboring parking lots include improving the drainage of the lots and increasing ADA accessibility. The plan includes adding more handicap parking spaces as well as sidewalks with ramps connecting to the ferry terminal.

A mix of federal and local dollars, $1.6 million in funding, was secured for the park-and-ride lot improvements. Ojala said the design should be ready in 2021 and construction completed in 2022.

Island County is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation on many of the projects.

Perhaps the most anticipated project is a two-mile long bike and pedestrian trail that will run between the Clinton ferry terminal and north to Ken’s Korner.

The trail will cost around $3 million and is only partially funded at this point, with $860,000 going towards design costs.

Construction will be dependent on the rest of the funding, but may be completed within the next five years.

“The bike trail, we’ve had a little trouble getting started because WSDOT wants us to commit to building that entire project,” Ojala said.

The trail will be 10 feet wide and similar to one that runs along State Highway 20 in Coupeville.

Though not a part of the Transportation Improvement Plan, two crosswalks near the ferry terminal and Whidbey Island Bank are also being planned.

No funding has been secured so far, but Ojala said this improvement would be the easiest and quickest to complete, since it would only require striping and installing flashing pedestrian crossing signs. He estimates the cost to be around $500,000.

Ojala acknowledged that transportation projects often take years to complete but pointed to the recent completion of the Crescent Harbor/Regatta intersection in Oak Harbor as proof of progress.

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