Citizens go to court to stop Glendale project

"The proximity of Glendale Creek to upcoming construction along Glendale Road is one reason opponents of a two-lane road filed a lawsuit Monday.Jim Larsen, staff photoIsland County is proceeding with repairs aimed at reopening Glendale Road despite a lawsuit filed Monday that aims to stop the work.The group Friends of Glendale Creek filed the lawsuit in Island County Superior Court, asking the court to order road work stopped until a full environmental review is undertaken. The group's attorney is Claudia M. Newman of the firm Bricklin & Gendler, LLP of Seattle.The filing didn't deter Island County from proceeding with the project.Island County Public Works Director Larry Kwarsick said Friday that the final phases of the project are now under way. Island Asphalt is on the scene preparing to build a 180-foot long retaining wall to protect the road and creek. Once the wall is finished in mid-August, Cowan Construction will replace a final culvert. After some minor patching of the roadway, Glendale Road will reopen to two-way traffic in late August or September.Unless a judge orders a stop to the work.Our goal is to stop the two-lane road, said Don Miller, a Friends of Glendale Creek leader, who explained the reason for the lawsuit in Thursday. For several years the group has urged that only a single-lane road be allowed, but Island County rejected the proposal in favor or retaining Glendale Road's traditional traffic flow.Miller argues that a one-lane road would better protect the fish, as well as the community which objects to the return of heavier traffic in the area.Kwarsick said the lawsuit will go through its normal course, but at this point it won't affect the project at all.The county has already rebuilt the lower portion of the road from where Glendale Creek enters Puget Sound through the tiny community of a dozen-or-so houses and beach cabins. All that remains is the upper stretch that was damaged by the big flood of January, 1997.The flood washed out an old culvert that kept salmon from accessing the stream for over 50 years. A few salmon have returned to the creek every year since 1997. Kwarsick said that thanks to repairs already made and the upcoming upper culvert replacement, fish will have unrestricted access to all but the upper reaches of the stream. One old culvert will still need to be replaced, something Kwarsick hopes can be done in the next few years as part of the county's salmon recovery program.The lawsuit alleges the county followed improper procedures in the effort to rebuild the road and cites several public documents as evidence. It also claims that the upcoming road work will have significant adverse impacts to steep slopes, riparian habitat, and wetlands, and is wholly incompatible with salmon restoration efforts.Kwarsick replies that the road work will have zero impact on the creek, and that the permits cited in the lawsuit aren't needed because the project is maintenance rather than new construction. The county's position has been upheld by the Island County Hearing Examiner.Unless a judge quickly orders a stop to the work, the project will likely be finished before the case goes to court. The lawsuit addresses that possibility as well, asking that any construction completed before the matter is resolved be removed. "

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