San Juan County will receive up to $5.5 million for a major road project on the south of San Juan Island. The federal dollars from the Federal Lands Access Program will cover more than 80 percent of the total cost of the realignment of 6,000 feet of Cattle Point Road away from an eroding bluff.
“This is a big win over a decade in the making,” Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02 said. "With these dollars, we will now make sure that this critical road will be protected from coastal erosion, allowing residents and visitors alike continued access to beautiful Cattle Point. I thank the Department of Transportation for their attention to this project, and congratulate all the leaders in San Juan County who made this happen."
Cattle Point Road is the only vehicle accessible route to the Cattle Point area, which is home to 270 residents and includes portions of the San Juan Island National Historic Park and the newly established San Juan Islands National Monument. Erosion of a coastal bluff threatens a portion of the road.
County officials estimate that by 2026, the road will be within two feet of the bluff. The realignment project will move 6,000 feet of the road 300 feet to the north of the bluff.
Larsen has worked with San Juan County and federal agencies on the project for more than a decade. Larsen sent a letter of support for the project in 2011 and sought a Congressional appropriation for the project in 2009.
More information on the Cattle Point Road project is available here.
Press Release from San Juan County Public Works Department
2013 has been a critical year for Cattle Point Road. In the past six months, the Final Environmental Statement (FEIS) was approved, design funds were identified and most recently, $5.5 million in federal construction funding has been awarded.
Last month, both the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Park Service (NPS) approved the FEIS by filing the Record of Decision (ROD) in the federal register. The ROD is the culmination of the process which began in 2004 to analyze the potential environmental consequences of four road realignment alternatives.
A 500-foot stretch of Cattle Point Road is threatened by an eroding feeder bluff which is less than 70 feet from the edge of the road. Failure of the road would eliminate access to the eastern portion of the San Juan Island National Historical Park at American Camp, the San Juan Islands National Monument (the lighthouse), Department of Natural Resources Conservation Area and 270 residents of Cape San Juan.
The preferred alternative in the FEIS is to relocate a portion of the road 300 feet from the eroding bluff, up the slope of Mt. Finlayson, to prolong the life of the road by more than 100 years.
The FEIS can be viewed at San Juan County Public Works or online
Earlier in 2013, San Juan County committed funding for the design of the project. San Juan County is in the process of authorizing FHWA to begin the design and prepare contract documents. It is anticipated that the design will be complete by the end of 2014. The public will have the opportunity to comment at various stages during the design phase.
On June 30, 2012, San Juan County and the National Park Service received the announcement that their application to the Federal Lands Access Program had been successful.
Applications submitted to the program totaled $93 million competing for $42 million in federal funds. San Juan County and the National Park Service were awarded $5.5 million for the construction of the Cattle Point Road realignment project which is estimated at $6.2 million.
In the past seven years, four previous funding applications for construction had been unsuccessful. A number of details remain to be worked out but San Juan County is planning to construct the project in 2016, thus preserving access along the southern end of San Juan Island.