By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The three commissioners Tuesday unanimously awarded the bid to Scarsella Bros. Inc., the same company the state hired to widen a two-lane stretch of the highway between Port Angeles and Sequim.
The city of Port Angeles last week awarded a $4.5 million contract to Scarsella to replace the aging Lauridsen Boulevard bridge over Peabody Creek.
The county underpass project will eliminate the left turns across the four-lane highway from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive.
Once completed sometime next year, a two-lane county road will connect Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive by looping behind Deer Park Cinema and crossing the state highway through a concrete arch tunnel.
Pedestrian, bike path
A 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path will allow travelers on the south side of the highway to safely access the Olympic Discovery Trail on the north.
Scarsella Brothers submitted the lowest of five bids that county commissioners opened June 11.
All five bids were well under the $7.1 million engineer’s estimate.
County commissioners Tuesday approved County Engineer Ross Tyler’s recommendation to award the bid to Scarsella Brothers and to authorize board Chairman Mike Chapman to execute contracts.
After the meeting, Tyler said the contractor is “interested in getting moving sooner than later.”
Start in July
He predicted that the long-awaited safety project would commence in late July.
“They will line up all of their subcontractors, and we don’t get involved in that part of it at all,” Tyler added.
County officials realized 15 years ago that the Deer Park-Buchanan intersections near the east crest of the Morse Creek “S” curve were dangerous.
Two weeks ago, Transportation Program Manager Rich James told commissioners that three motorists and one pedestrian had been killed in traffic collisions in the Deer Park area since 2000.
County engineers studied dozens of conceptual designs before committing to an “undercrossing” of the state highway.
An overpass was determined to be too costly and aesthetically detrimental, while a traffic signal concept was tossed over concerns that backed-up trucks would get stuck on the Morse Creek hill in the winter.
The federally funded county project will include upgrades to the rest area and scenic overlook on the westbound side of the highway near C’est Si Bon restaurant.
During construction, highway traffic will be detoured for up to 90 days while the arch tunnel is being installed.
U.S. Highway 101 will keep its existing grade and alignment after the underpass goes in.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.