Orcas road improvements

For the past few years, the Prune Alley improvement project has been discussed at length, and now it is nearing the point at which ground-breaking may begin.

“It’s a challenging job,” said San Juan County Engineer Colin Huntemer. “Prune Alley is a completely locally funded project. There’s no grant requirement driving the schedule or funding.”

Because the funding is entirely based on the county’s budget, Huntemer said funds occasionally have to be reallocated to other projects, which is why progress on Prune Alley has been so slow. He said the county should have agreements completed this summer.

There are three phases to the Prune Alley project, and Huntemer said the plan now is to have phase one begin in 2018. The first phase will be improving stormwater management and parking changes from Main Street to Fern Street. The other two phases will involve the same improvements, just farther up the road. In total, the county anticipates spending $2.7 million on the upgrade.

The county also has a contract with Mayfly Engineering and Design of Seattle to design lighting for the project.

“Work on a lighting plan is on hold until the county has reached a tentative consensus with the adjacent property owners on the location and type of frontage improvements (curbs, parking, sidewalks, etc.),” said Huntemer. “It is difficult to develop a project schedule around negotiations but I am hopeful that we can get a draft lighting plan developed this summer.”

Another project the county is looking at is changing the traffic flow near Madrona Point.

The county is considering making a part of Haven Road into a one-way street, which would then loop around to Harrison Point Lane, which would become entirely one-way from Haven Road to Main Street.

“Congestion on Haven Road is a concern, and public works, in anticipation of future developments, is looking into the viability of this concept,” said Huntemer. “For this plan to be successful, Harrison Point Lane would have to be improved.”

The Washington State Department of Transportation has given the county a $750,000 grant to construct a park-and-ride facility at the Orcas Island Ferry Terminal. The county has allocated $710,000 toward the project. The goal is to move parking on Orcas Road to a new designated parking lot.

Phase one will consist of relocating Orcas Hill Road and building the parking lot. During phase two, the intersection of Orcas Road and Orcas Hill Road will be updated with turn lanes. The final phase of construction will be to end Orcas Hill Road at the ferry holding lines. Phase one is expected to begin in March.