Orcas Road renovation is complete

Drivers and pedestrians on Orcas Road can now enjoy safety improvements thanks to San Juan County’s most recent public works project.

For a total of 1.4 miles from Nordstrom Lane to McNallie Road, there is now a four-foot wide shoulder, an elevated roadway for better line of sight, guardrails, stormwater water management and straightened curves. Work began on March 25 and was completed on Aug. 20 with striping and hydro-seeding.

“Thank you to the council and county for their support of this important project for Orcas,” said San Juan County Council Member Rick Hughes. “Our contractor did a good job and they built a beautiful road. Shannon Wilbur of public works handled the change for the community really well. We had a road project that will save lives.”

The $4.3 million undertaking, which was funded primarily by grants, has been on the county’s list to complete for more than 10 years. Work included engineering, holding public meetings, seeking funding, asking for bids and securing easements from homeowners. Razz Construction was awarded the construction bid at $1.6 million.

“Razz came in under budget and on time, which allowed us to extend the work .2 miles to the corner past Orcas Recycling Services,” Hughes said.

Public works asked Razz to preserve eight trees, which the county would like to donate to a nonprofit that will use them as firewood for local households. Contact Hughes at rickh@sanjuanco.com.

“I hate cutting trees as much as everyone else does,” he said. “We are giving back to the community to help people in need.”

Hughes says he is “so proud” of the staff at public works.

“They are doing such an amazing job on every project,” he said. “We’ve been talking about fixing Henry Road at the Orcas Senior Center that was bumpy and had potholes. Public works just fixed it in one afternoon for $15,000.”

Hughes says that safety corridors are needed on the high traffic main roads that run from the ferry landing to Moran State Park.

“Our roads will continued to be occupied by motor vehicles, motorcycles, bicyclists and RVs,” he said. “We have to use the roads together and be patient and the county has to do its part to provide wider roads with 4-foot shoulders on our key traffic corridors.”

If re-elected in 2020, Hughes wants to create a complete trail network in the county.

“We want to have mixed use bike/pedestrian paths on all the major roads in the county,” he said. “We will come up with a rough plan and go to the community and say, ‘who is with us?’”