Council of Governments hands out roads grants

The Grays Harbor Council of Governments approved more than $3.7 million in transportation grants to local governments all over the Harbor Thursday night. Grants will help Montesano with street and main entrance improvements, improve hazardous curves on county roads, improve accessibility for persons with disabilities in Aberdeen and create a bike path in Hoquiam.

The money comes from the federal Surface Transportation Program, which allows funds to be used for any kind of road or bridge improvements, as well as sidewalks and other transportation needs, according to Vickie Cummings, the executive director of the Grays Harbor Council of Governments.

Cummings said that the organization was able to fund all six of the applications it received from local governments.

The projects are first reviewed and ranked by a Technical Advisory Committee consisting of public works officials from cities and the county.

“The recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee are then forwarded to the full council of the Council of Governments for their discussion and final funding decision,” she said. “Once funds have been officially allocated to a project, the Council of Governments works directly with staff of the submitting agency to ensure all requirements allowing the release of funds have been met.”

The City of Montesano received $450,000, the last bit needed to fund its Main Street Phase II project, to pave and improve main street with bulb-outs and install bulb-outs from the entrance of the city all the way to the historic courthouse area, according to Cummings. The total project will cost $1.33 million, with the city chipping in some funds along with the state Transportation Improvement Board.

Hoquiam received two grants. There’s $425,000 to install trails at John Gable Park and do some culvert work. The total project will cost $500,000. There’s also a $750,000 grant to do a pedestrian and bicycle safety project. That total project will cost $882,000.

Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney said he’s most excited about the pedestrian safety project, which consists primarily of improving the sidewalks on K Street from Emerson to 8th Street and down 8th Street to the Post Office.

“This is such a significant project for us because K Street is a main street and the sidewalk is very wide, which meant the cost to do it was more than property owners or we could afford to contribute,” Durney said. “This will make that area much safer to walk.”

Plus, Cummings points out that the project will establish a designated bike path, which could be a first for the Aberdeen-Hoquiam area. The Grays Harbor Council of Governments is working with Grays Harbor Public Health to do a survey of current and potential bike paths.

“This could be the start of really incorporating bikes into our cities,” Cummings said. “Creating a trail for bikes is one thing, but we want to make it safer to use bikes to go to church or the grocery store or the post office. We’re really hoping to do more grants like these in the future.”

Aberdeen was given $743,000 to do cutouts and sidewalk improvements in the city for persons with disabilities.

Grays Harbor County was given $600,000 toward a $1.4 million project to improve curves on Wynooche Road. The county was also given $750,000 to do general curve improvements on other county roads, as well.