Port Angeles chamber briefed on Highway 101 widening project
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Project engineer Jerry Moore said he hopes the old McDonald Creek bridge can hang in there until summer, when it will be replaced.

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Crews will start moving dirt April 1 to widen the sole remaining two-lane stretch of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim.

State Department of Transportation officials briefed a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce audience on the $27.1 million project.

The project will provide four lanes of divided highway — plus two new bridges across McDonald Creek — on the 3.5-mile segment between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads.

The work has been “going fine” since it began Jan. 7, Project Manager Jerry Moore told about 50 listeners at the Red Lion Hotel on Monday.

Kent contractor Scarsella Bros. has cleared the area south of the McDonald Creek bridge, where a new, wider bridge will go in this summer, and earth-moving for the new lanes will begin in earnest next month.

“It will become a lot more evident after April when we start doing some serious clearing and grubbing, and more sites open up, and the contractor has got more equipment in,” Moore said.

“We have a lot of get accomplished this summer.”

Most of the activity will take place south of the existing highway.

“This summer, we're going to build the two new lanes, then, hopefully, the two new lanes are done at the same time the bridge is done so they kind of coincide together,” Moore said.

Highway traffic will be moved onto the new bridge later this year. The existing narrow bridge, which was built on top of a 1939 timber trestle, will be knocked down next summer.

“This old timber structure is pretty shot,” Moore said.

“It's getting close to where we may have to put load restrictions on it. It's not there yet, but it's getting there.”

The creosote-treated wood will be disposed of, Moore said after the meeting.

When the project is finished in the fall of 2014, eastbound and westbound traffic will be separated by a 40-foot grassy median.

Motorists will have two 12-foot-wide lanes in either direction with shoulders on both sides.

Highway traffic will not be interrupted during daylight hours. The current 55-mph speed limit will remain in place during construction.

Transportation's Olympic regional administrator, Kevin Dayton, urged motorists to use caution.

“If you're driving through it, please pay attention,” he said.

“I challenge everyone in here to put the coffee cup down, put the Egg McMuffin down, put the makeup down, put the cellphone down.

“It's a short section, so just don't be distracted, because we don't want any of our people injured.”

Most of the widening will take place on the south side of the existing highway. New eastbound lanes will be built from Shore Road to the Peninsula Septic Tanks business near Pierson Road, where the new alignment will cross the existing highway.

“Then, once we get up to a certain point, then we'll put traffic onto the final configuration on both sides,” Moore said.

The bid from Scarsella Bros came in $6.9 million under the estimate.

Jordan Excavating of Port Angeles will perform most of the irrigation work. Local companies will provide crushed rock and other materials for the project, Moore said.

“There is work generated within the local community,” he said.

“And then, of course, they [Scarsella Bros.] will have people staying in town, and some other benefits there.”

The total project cost is $60 million. That figure includes decades of studies, design and right-of-way acquisition.

Moore, who works out of Transportation's office in Port Angeles, has been part of the widening project since the environmental studies began in conjunction with the Sequim bypass in 1990.

“This has been around for a while,” he said.

The bypass was opened in 1999.

After the widening is finished, left turns from the county roads that intersect with the highway will be restricted.

Drivers instead will turn right onto the highway and use six “indirect left” pocket U-turns to change course.

The indirect lefts will be similar to one east of Deer Park Road in eastern Port Angeles.

The state project includes a pedestrian tunnel for Clallam Transit passengers at East Owl Creek near Kitchen-Dick Road.

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 11. 2013 6:12PM
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