Half-million in fed dollars allocated for Russell Road culvert fix

Some $500,000 in federal funding is on the way to repair the collapsing culverts under Russell Road.
A phone call from the federal Department of Transportation brought the news this week to the City of Forks.

“The call came out of the blue,” Public Works Director Dave Zellar told the Forks City Council on Monday evening, May 9.

“There is light at end of the tunnel for Russell Road,” Mayor Bryon Monohon told the council.
A key section of Russell Road has been closed by the City of Forks for months due to concerns over the possible collapse of the road due to the culverts collapsing. Large concrete blocks and warning signs keep drivers away. Heavy rusty steel plates now cover the 100 foot section of the road atop the culverts.
The road closure has forced local residents to take a sometimes considerably longer route to get from the south end of Highway 101 in Forks to homes along Russell Road on the west side of the closure.
The funding didn’t come easily. The call comes after months of city officials lobbying and seeking federal help to fix the costly problem.
The council on Monday night approved the initial steps for moving the culvert fix forward.
Following discussion with the mayor and the council at the meeting it was decided to move forward with preparations for soliciting engineering and design work proposals.
Zellar said removing the existing culverts, replacing them and reopening the road section will be scheduled for 2012.
The project involves working with fisheries issues due to Mill Creek being a salmon bearing waterway.
Currently the Pacific Coast Salmon Coalition is doing a study of the Mill Creek area that will likely help cut down on the initial design and environmental studies work necessary for pre-construction work.
The city will contribute about $67,000 in funds for the work.
Zellar said it is likely the Forks Old Fashioned Fourth of July Committee will have to stage their annual parade in a different way due to the ongoing road closure, possibly shortening the length of the parade.
All the work must meet federal and state highway standards, City Attorney/Planner Rod Fleck told the council.
West End Thunder meeting
Representatives of the West End Thunder drag racing organization attended the meeting and discussed their upcoming meeting set for Thursday night, May 12 at the Olympic Natural Resources Center.
Staff members from the office of Sen. Patty Murray are attending the meeting to discuss negotiations with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over future use of the Forks Municipal Airport for summertime weekend series of drag races.
West End Thunder is at the end of a five-year extension from the FAA for holding their one-eight mile drag races about five times a season.
The City of Forks has also been in negotiation with the FAA over the issue, seeking to help continue the drag racing series at the airport. The races boost the economy of Forks as well as offering a popular event for spectators and racers.
A two-year extension for the races is a possible temporary solution. The City of Forks role at the airport, and the FAA’s interpretation of its compacts with the city at the Forks Municipal Airport will likely also be focused on at the Thursday night meeting.
Wild Olympics campaign
Fleck reported on meetings with state agencies regarding possible delays of timber sales on state forest lands managed by the state Department of Natural Resources that provide funds for schools and hospitals. Environmental groups are seeking to have additional state forest lands set aside for habitat for the marbled murrelet forest bird.
Monohon and Fleck are scheduled to attend a public meeting at Quinault High School on Saturday evening, May 14 that will focus on the pros and cons of the Wild Olympic Campaign which seeks to add more private and state lands to the Olympic National Park.

Prescription drug take back
Forks Police Chief Doug Price reported that the prescription drug take-back held at Chinook Pharmacy on Saturday, May 7 was a success, with local resident bringing in enough dated pill bottles to fill a large box. He said among the drugs returned were containers of oxycodone, a prescription pain killer drug that is linked to drug abuse by persons who illegally obtain the prescription pills.
Price said three surplus Washington State Patrol cars will soon arrive in Forks, all bought at a substantial savings to the city. He said the cars will come equipped with costly light bars and other gear and only need  installation of police radios and Forks Police Department markings.
American Legion seeks to return
Port Angeles-based American Legion officials attended the council meeting and announced they are seeking to restart an American Legion chapter in Forks.  They said they are seeking a site for an American Legion hall and need 15 members from the area to join to relaunch the chapter. They sought the city’s help in doing this. The mayor said he would meet with the chapter representatives in Port Angeles at a later date.
Rainforest Run update
The annual Rainforest Run motorcycle event will be held August 19-20 at a site off Mora Road owned by event promoter Bob Wishon, Wishon announced at the meeting. In 2009 the event was held at Tillicum Park in Forks, and in 2010 at the main hanger of the city-owned Quillayute Airport.
Wishon said permission was not received from the FAA for again using the hanger and paved areas around the hanger.

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