This writer has been hearing of a Yelm Bypass being divided into two phases and getting the Legislature to shift the Phase 2 (the eastern, much longer portion Wal-Mart end) project money for engineering and right-of-way acquisition to Phase 1 (the 1 mile section from Mud Run Rd. to Cullen) construction dollars, so that a partial Bypass can begin construction - a partial Bypass that would put all of the traffic on Yelm residential side streets to return to Yelm Ave. W at Cullen.
IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT ADJACENT CULLEN RD. AND DO NOT LIKE THE PROSPECT OF TRUCK AND VEHICULAR TRAFFIC COMING DOWN YOUR STREET IN A CITY-SUPPORTED PARTIAL BUILD-OUT OF THE BYPASS, PLEASE VOICE YOUR CONCERNS TO THE CITY COUNCIL ON THE 2ND & 4TH TUESDAYS OF EVERY MONTH IN THE PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING AT 7PM!
This writer decided to go to WSDOT Bypass Project Manager Dennis Engel to get some straight answers, and not a politician's spin. Here are those questions & answers:
YELM BLOG: At the January 13th, 2009 Yelm City Council Meeting, Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom said that if funding for the Bypass comes through, construction could start by this May on Phase 1 (Mud Run Rd. thru to Cullen).
Mayor Harding interrupted and said, "or sooner."
Isom said the Bypass deserves a more thorough look from the Legislature because the Bypass is already engineered and is a shovel-ready project, which deserves priority. Therefore construction could start as soon as funds are released.
MR. ENGEL: The 2007-2009 budget for SR510 Yelm Loop Highway has $3.4 million for PE (design) and $15.5 million for Right of Way. There is no money allocated for construction.
We have been working on purchasing the right of way for the entire project and have acquired about 75 of the 105 needed parcels. We are continuing the right of way acquisition and hope to secure the entire corridor by June 2009.
We have been working on preliminary engineering and permitting for the entire project. We have now moved into the final design phase, preparing the plans for construction.
YELM BLOG: There seems to be a move afoot to divide the Bypass project into two parts:
1. Stage 1 - a "Yelm High School Bypass" from Mud Run Rd. to Cullen Rd.
The idea of dividing the Bypass into two parts was an idea presented by then-WSDOT Bypass Project Manager Bill Elliott when told the City Council on November 13, 2007 that a Phase 1 buildout timeline was March, 2010, quoting the City Council Minutes and covered on the Yelm Blog in March, 2008.
2. Stage 2, the eastern, longer end of the Bypass, from Cullen Rd. to SR 507 & Wal-Mart.
MR. ENGEL: In discussions with the City of Yelm, the merits of designing and constructing a stage 1 project have been evaluated. This would be the part of the project from Mud Run Road to Cullens Road. This section of the roadway is a relatively basic design and construction.
Our current design work is focused in the area of what could be stage 1, this work is also needed for the entire project. The City of Yelm is working with the legislature about the possibility of splitting the project into stage 1 and 2, and changing some of the funding to construction so stage 1 could be built.
As you mentioned in your e-mail, one possible solution is to move some of the PE and Right of Way for the
stage 2 area money to construction of the stage 1 work.
As far as timing of the project, we could have a stage 1 set of plans completed and out for bids in October 2009, assuming the Governor and the legislature approved the above.
However the current proposed Governor's budget shows all of the funding for Yelm Loop gets moved out to the 2021-2023 biennium. If approved, we will not have funding past the end of June and all work on the design and right of way acquisition would stop.
YELM BLOG: Mr. Isom said, "the gas tax funded the Bypass and if people knew the Governor was pulling gas-tax funding for the Bypass which they voted on to implement this road, they would be angry."
Can you verify Mr. Isom's statement as fact?
MR. ENGEL: I do know that part of the Transportation Partnership Act funded $33 million for Yelm Loop Highway and did not specify the split for design, right of way or construction.
ED NOTE: The WSDOT site for the Bypass shows Financial Information for this project is funded through the following fund sources:
2005 Gas Tax (Partnership Funding) - $33,000,000
Existing Funds - $1,200,000
Other Agency Funds
High Priority - SAFETEA-LU ($1,713,274)
Total Funding Available From All Sources - $35,913,274
Unfunded Amount Remaining - $56,059,900
YELM BLOG: Isom did say funding looked distant and only the proposed stimulus package would give the Bypass a chance.
He said the legislature will have a challenge on this.
MR. ENGEL: A third option is the possible stimulus package from the Federal Government. If Yelm Loop receives funding, we could accelerate the design effort and begin construction on stage 1 in the summer of 2009.
Thank you for your interest in the Yelm Loop project.
ED. NOTE: If a Federal Stimulus package allocates money to the State of Washington, there will be many roads from across the state vying for their project's funding, as well.
So now we have official word that the City of Yelm is focused on shifting some of the Bypass funding from Stage 2 to Stage 1, so as to begin construction on Stage 1. With Yelm's allocating paying a lobbyist to keep this road alive in the State Legislature and Rep. Tom Campbell on the House Transportation Committee and Sen. Randi Becker on the Senate Transportation Committee, a Stage 1 construction in late 2009 might just happen.
Then the Mayor can proclaim victory for at least construction on this part of the road. When that occurs, I will introduce a request to name this the Ron Harding Bypass.
I reminded newly-elected County Commissioner Sandra Romero at her Yelm "coffee" open house last Monday that Yelm's Super Wal-Mart (Bypass Stage 2 area) was ONLY given a permit to build in Yelm subject to a Bypass being built within 7 years of their July, 2007 opening to mitigate their traffic. Now, sure seems with the City's plan to shift funding away from Stage 2 to Stage 1, that might not happen for 17 years of opening, if at all.
I told her I hoped permits are no longer going to be issued using unfunded roads to mitigate traffic from those projects.
Given she is a land-use advocate, she said she was going to be examining the concurrency issue. Hooray.
So, based on all of the officials, sure looks like Stage 2 of Yelm's Bypass will be shifted to another future generation?
What we will have left if funded, is a Bypass to nowhere, that dumps all of the inbound traffic back onto Yelm's residential side streets like Cullen Rd to merge with Yelm Ave. W., where there is no traffic light, at present.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS IDEA?