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Permitting process puts Illahee Road repairs on hold

Heated discussion filled the Brownsville Elementary School library Wednesday night.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown and Kitsap County Public Works Design Manager Dick Dadisman, along with other county officials, hosted a community meeting with about 60 concerned Illahee residents earlier this week to discuss the Illahee Road repair schedule.

The Dec. 3 storm washed out a section of Illahee Road between California Street and Varsity Lane NE. Now five months later, Illahee residents are still forced to drive an extra 20 minutes around the washout to get to Silverdale or Bremerton and it looks like they should get used to their extended commutes.

Dadisman said the county completed about 70 percent of the new culvert design in February, but the permitting process is holding up construction.

“If you don’t think myself and my county staff lose sleep over these things, you’re wrong because we do,” Brown told the crowd of concerned residents.

Permits with the State Environmental Policy Act, state department of Fish and Wildlife and National Environmental Policy Act have been approved, Dadisman said, but the county still needs approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration.

Dadisman estimates the county will have final approval from the Federal Highway Administration by mid-July. Then, Kitsap County will put the Illahee Road project up for bid and select a contractor.

Illahee residents and county officials agreed that state and federal government agencies are not acting quickly enough to approve permits and get the Illahee Road project underway.

“We’re being treated like this is a new project when we’re trying to still recover from the December storm,” Brown said.

Dadisman said the county plans to install a 10-foot in diameter culvert to replace the aging 18-inch pipe that was in place at the Illahee Road washout. The 10-foot in diameter, 160-foot-long culvert should be able to handle another massive storm, Dadisman said.

“This one will definitely pass the 100-year storm event,” Dadisman said.

If the remainder of the permitting process goes according to plan, Dadisman estimates construction on the Illahee Road culvert will begin sometime in September. He added that the project should only take two months and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Brown said the Illahee Road and Chico Bridge damage are the last two roads that need to be fixed in the county after the December storm. Other damaged roads, such as Miami Beach Road in Seabeck, were quickly repaired because they were deemed emergency situations where people were stranded with no access to emergency services and other vital resources.

“I was out there (Miami Beach Road) when we had folks stranded and I take it pretty damn seriously,” Brown said.

Dadisman said the Illahee Road washout did not cause people to become completely stranded, but merely inconvenienced them with longer commutes to town.

“There are bypass routes if you will,” Dadisman said.

“This is an emergency to everyone in this room. Unfortunately it’s not an emergency to the state and federal folks,” Brown added.

Dadisman estimates the Illahee Road repair project will cost somewhere in the range of $800,000-900,000. The federal government is picking up 86 percent of the repair costs with the county paying for the rest of the project.

“We’ve made changes in our transportation budget to get these projects done,” Brown said. “This project’s going to get done.”

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