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With the local newspaper touting the last two weeks Yelm’s Bypass being funded by the State Legislature and Mayor Harding saying this is “tangible”, one would come to believe we would have a partial Bypass soon. However, the newspaper omitted so many hurdles that still have to be overcome before this area sees construction on a Bypass in their stories:

April 10: “Campbell: Funds for bypass are good to go
Things are looking good for the Yelm Bypass

April 3: Fingers crossed on bypass dollars
Becker: Its looking good, but who knows

I wrote to Rep. Campbell and asked him how the current funding for right-of-way (r-o-w) acquisition and engineering will be converted to construction funding. (The current funding has no construction monies, as covered here two weeks ago.).
He wrote back and said, “I have double checked with staff here, and we (the Legislature) don’t tie the purse strings by phases.”

OK, well someone does, so I asked WSDOT Bypass Project Manager Dennis Engel for an explanation.
Why the local newspaper just did not contact the WSDOT Project Manager for details to give the public the facts, one just does not know! I did.

Mr. Engel replied, “Rep. Campbell is correct, the legislature designates the money and then WSDOT divides it up in the needed phases. This can be changed to construction dollars when the legislative intent is known in the budget and we work with our stakeholders, such as the City of Yelm to move towards construction.”

The key issue here is “when the legislative intent is known” and so far, that has not been determined.
The Legislature just has a few days left in this session. According to my sources, WSDOT interprets “legislative intent” and they currently interpret the Bypass in r-o-w and design phases right now.

There has to be a scope change request for a phased project that would include construction and that has not happened, yet. With the way the budget is currently written, phased construction is possible, yet would require WSDOT Headquarters to reinterpret legislative intent.

Bottom Line: The best way for Phase 1 construction funding for the Yelm Bypass to be approved is for the Yelm Bypass to be divided officially into two Phases
(Phase 1 & 2 as previously discussed here) and allocate the funds for construction for Phase 1 while the Legislature is still in session. Otherwise, there is potential for the funding to be stalled in the political process.


Posted by Steve on April 17, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

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