Feds provide money for county road

Island County officials have been trying to find money to build a new road on Central Whidbey for more than a decade. This fall they had some modest success.

Public Works Director Bill Oakes said the county received a $790,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration for design work, permitting and to purchase some right-of-way property for a new road that would link Houston and Race roads.

The purpose of the road, Oakes said, is to provide an alternative route in case Highway 525 is closed by a natural disaster.

“It’s the longest stretch of state highway where there’s no real viable alternative to the state highway and it is right in the middle of the island,” Oakes said.

“If something would happen, it would cut the island in two,” he added.

Oakes said county officials have already identified the preferred alignment for the new road.

Oakes said the new road would travel about 1.3 miles through private property. From the Race Road side, the new road would extend down an existing road, Kempton Place. It would come out through undeveloped property on Houston Road, about 500 to 1,000 feet from the highway, he said.

In grant documents, the road is identified as New County Road, which Oakes admits isn’t very creative. He said the board of commissioners would get to name the new road when it’s built.

But construction may be a long ways away. Oakes said the county simply doesn’t have the resources to build the road on its own. It’s estimated to cost as much as $5 million. The hope is to secure another, much larger federal grant someday.

“It’s all very preliminary and based on getting follow-up funding for construction,” Oakes said, adding that this grant may increase the county’s chances of obtaining grant for construction.


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