The Skagit Council of Governments agreed Wednesday to distribute about $3.2 million in federal transportation project funding to eight local projects.
This includes about $1.3 million for a joint Samish Indian Nation and state Department of Transportation project at Highway 20 at Campbell Lake Road — the largest amount of funding awarded.
Concrete Mayor Jason Miller was the only member of the council to vote against the funding recommendations.
According to the Samish Indian Nation’s website, the Highway 20-Campbell Lake Road intersection has seen a 20% increase in traffic over the past five years. The intersection provides access to tribal-owned land near Campbell Lake.
While the project is in its initial planning phase, the tribe hopes to install a roundabout. Estimated cost is $3.2 million, according to the tribe.
About $860,000 was committed to the city of Anacortes for improvements on R Avenue, far less than the $5.5 million the city requested.
Anacortes aims to make a number of improvements to R Avenue, including a roundabout at its intersection with 30th Street.
The city of Mount Vernon was awarded $348,000 for engineering on improvements on Riverside Drive, and $263,000 for work on a series of trails along the Skagit River dike system.
In the meeting, Miller said his town engineer raised concerns about the behavior of a state Department of Transportation employee regarding the Samish-Department of Transportation project at a previous meeting of the council’s Transportation Advisory Committee.
Miller said the engineer, Cody Hart, said the department’s Local Programs Engineer Mehrdad Moini was advocating for the Samish project. Miller said he and Hart feel it was inappropriate for anyone to advocate for funding of their own projects.
“It’s a conflict of interest and not fair to all of us,” he said.
The town of Concrete applied for funding on one project, but that project was not selected.
County Commissioner Lisa Janicki, who sits on the council, said she expects experts like Moini to use their knowledge in public works to advocate for the best projects.
Jay Drye, engineering manager with the Department of Transportation, said while he wasn’t at the meeting in question, the project evaluation process has checks and balances to ensure one opinion doesn’t sway the board’s decision.
Miller suggested postponing the vote on the funding recommendations for a month to further discuss the process.
However, Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau said pushing the funding decision another month would result in project delays.