A road project to be discussed in a public meeting here today would join Stevens and Pend Oreille counties at the waist.
Responding to years of lobbying by officials from both counties, the Federal Highway Administration is proposing to pave Flowery Trail Road between Chewelah and Usk.
It would be only the second paved road between the back-to-back counties, which are divided by the Selkirk Mountains.
The other paved link is state Highway 20 at the northern end of the counties, which connects Colville and Tiger. Otherwise, the closest link is through Spokane County, on the county road that connects Deer Park and Riverside.
The Federal Highway Administration, responding to years of lobbying by Pend Oreille and Stevens county officials, proposes to pave Flowery Trail Road at an estimated cost of $18 million to $20 million. Most of the road is in the Colville National Forest.
Federal officials will provide information on the project and take comments in an informal meeting from 3 to 9 p.m. today at the 49 Degrees North ski resort near Chewelah. People may drop in and leave whenever they wish.
The ski resort is on Flowery Trail Road, which is unpaved in Pend Oreille County east of the resort. Paving the road would make it easier for the resort to draw customers from Pend Oreille County.
In addition to paving eight miles from the county line east to Danforth Road, the road project calls for straightening curves and other improvements on the 13-mile paved section.
Art Lemke, a Federal Highway Administration environmental specialist, said both counties would have to pay for right-of-way acquisitions, and Pend Oreille County would have to pay $900,000 of the paving cost.
An environmental impact statement prepared by the Washington Department of Transportation recommends the middle ground among three options. The preferred option would allow a driving speed of 38 mph, as compared with a cheaper 30 to 35 mph alternative and a much more expensive 50 mph design.
If the project is approved, Lemke said preliminary work could begin in summer 1997.
The Pend Oreille County portion of the road would be built first, and the entire project probably would be completed by the year 2002.
Copies of the environmental impact statement are available at Forest Service offices, public libraries and Public Works offices in both counties, and at the Usk Post Office.
Until July 12, comments may be mailed to: Michael Edgerly, Federal Highway Administration, 610 E. Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA 98661.
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