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Burley-Olalla gets one-year boost
After weeks of wrangling, the much-discussed Burley-Olalla/State Route 16 interchange did win a spot on this years transportation budget, but lost half its benefit in the process.
The line item that appears in the supplementary transportation budget approved by the state Legislature last week only moves up the construction start date for the project by one year the original bills introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate called for starting work two years early. However, when both bills failed to gain the support of both houses, the bills proponents were forced to settle for a pared-down budget item.
State Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard), who sponsored the Burley-Olalla Senate bill, said he was disappointed but cautiously optimistic.
Its not all that I wanted, but theres always next year, he said. I think its been so well-discussed in Olympia, when I say Burley-Olalla, everybody knows where that is now.
Jay Spady, president of the South Kitsap Improvement Club, said hes equally disappointed and also worried about the effect the pending interim fix will have on the interchanges construction schedule.
The $1 million interim fix approved last year is expected to reduce the number of collisions at the intersection by reducing the number of cars crossing the highway at Burley-Olalla Road. Spady said if the fix does work, it could make the interchange less of a priority for legislators, who might then push construction back even further.
We really shouldnt have to have an accident where four people die all at once to bring this forward, he said. We know the danger and we need to deal with this now rather than wait for something to happen.
Spady said his group is planning to talk to U.S. Sen. Norm Dicks (D-Washington) about possibly gaining federal support for the project. He said the group hasnt quite worked out what it wants to ask for, but said even a loan might make a difference in getting the $15 million project finished sometime before 2010 the current projected completion date.
Money is the big obstacle in the getting the project started the interchange is funded by gas taxes as part of the Nickel Package transportation project list, but that money wont be available until after 2009. A loan would allow work to begin sooner by making funding available immediately, and then could be paid back out of Nickel Package monies.
Oke, however, believes he has a fair shot at getting the matter readdressed during next years legislative session. Right now, he said hes hoping the election in November will gain his party the Republicans more seats and thereby more support for his cause.
A few more Republicans in the House and Senate, he said, could greatly increase any Burley-Olalla bills chance of success.
When youre in the minority, its a whole lot harder to get things done, he said.