By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The county is building a new road with an underpass of U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles to eliminate the hazardous left turns onto the four-lane highway from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive.
Final contracts and drawings are being prepared for state Department of Transportation approval.
“We’re definitely heading into the final phase,” Clallam County Transportation Program Manager Rich James said Thursday.
“We’re still hoping to go out to bid in March.”
During construction, highway traffic will be detoured onto a temporary road on an adjacent gravel pit to allow crews to build the underpass structure.
The state highway will reclaim its existing alignment and grade after the underpass is finished late this year or in early 2014.
Timing of the $7 million construction largely will depend on the weather.
“The goal is to get as far as we can get this year,” James said.
The two-lane county road and its 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path will be constructed after the underpass is finished.
The new road will loop around the back of the Deer Park Cinema, go under the highway and tie into Buchanan Drive near C’est Si Bon restaurant.
Right-turn highway acceleration lanes will be added at Buchanan Drive and Deer Park Road.
A median will discourage motorists from turning left from either of those roads.
The scenic overlook and rest stop on the westbound side of the highway will be upgraded as part of the overall $9.2 million project.
County officials have been planning for an underpass at Deer Park Road for several years.
Data from 2001 to 2009 showed a high incidence of wrecks in the area, including four fatalities.
The three commissioners purchased the last right of way the county needed for the project in October.
Federal funds account for about 80 percent of the total cost. Clallam County is covering the rest with real estate excise tax revenue.
Several local bids
James said local contractors have expressed an interest in the project.
“We expect several of them to bid on it,” he added.
Even if the county awards the bid to an out-of-town contractor, local companies will have an opportunity for major subcontracting work, James said.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation began construction of the long-awaited $60 million widening of U.S. Highway 101 between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads Jan. 7.
Scarsella Bros. Inc. of Kent was awarded the $27.1 million bid in November.
The first phase in the 3.5-mile widening is building a new bridge over McDonald Creek. The existing McDonald Creek bridge will be torn down and rebuilt.
Once completed in the fall of 2014, motorists will have two lanes of travel in both directions for the entire corridor between Port Angeles and Sequim.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.