Driveways part of Belfair widening project

Highway 3 through Belfair will look a lot different in a couple years. Most everyone knows the state will be widening the road, extending the left-turn lane, and adding shoulders and sidewalks. There’s another feature I didn’t realize was coming, though — driveways.
You’re probably saying, “Well, duh …,” but it’s not as obvious as it seems. A lot of the properties now have what DOT project engineer Bill Elliott calls “full frontage.” There’s no defined entry. You can pull in and out of the business anywhere you want. That’s going to end.
There’ll be sidewalks along the highway with openings for driveways. It should be a lot safer, Elliott said.
DOT announced some other changes during an open house last month. It’s a been a while since then, but they still bear mentioning.
We’ve known since 2008 that the $18.2 million available for the project won’t get it done. It was broken into two phases, originally starting at the south end where Highway 3 intersects with Highway 106. In May, that was flip-flopped. Work will begin on the north end near McDonald’s. It was determined the southern part would cost more to design and for right-of-way.
“We’re trying to deliver the biggest bang for the buck,” Elliott said.
Work isn’t expected to begin until Spring 2013, so things could change again between now and then, but the state thinks it can complete 1.72 miles of the 2.12-mile project with the money it has. Who knows when the final .45 miles — from just south of Theler Center and Belfair Elementary to Highway 106 — will get done. It depends on when the Legislature decides to fund it.
Another change announced last month pertains to how the highway will be widened. Instead of widening equally on both sides, widening will primarily be toward the west side of the road. Widening toward one side makes it easier to build and reduces impacts to the public, Elliott said. People on the west side will lose more of their property, however.
That’s the one thing that looks like it could get tricky. There’s not a ton of space between some of those businesses and Highway 3. When the road is widened, there’ll be even less room. I assume they already thought of that.
The state will advertise the project in July 2012. By the time it’s awarded, it’ll be October, Elliott said, and the bid winner will probably wait until spring and better weather to get started.