By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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A temporary detour with a posted 25 mph speed limit will be in place for up to 90 days near the Deer Park Cinema east of Port Angeles where Clallam County is putting an underpass.
County Engineer Ross Tyler said the curves getting on and off the short detour are too sharp for 45 mph traffic.
The contractor, Scarsella Bros. of Kent, plans to move traffic onto the detour, which was paved Oct. 11, in January or possibly February in order to install the underpass.
Once the pre-cast, concrete-arch tunnel is in place, the highway will reclaim its existing alignment and 45 mph speed limit through the area.
Crews continue to dig large holes where a new county road — Deer Park Loop — will dip into the underpass.
Deer Park Loop will eliminate left turns across the four-lane highway from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive.
The underpass will have a 10-foot-wide sidewalk for pedestrians and cyclists to access the Olympic Discovery Trail from the south side of the highway.
The project is scheduled to be completed by late June.
The beginning of a 45-day shutdown of Cedar Park Drive, which is needed for excavation on the north side of the highway, was postponed from Sept. 3 to Oct. 7 because of construction delays.
However, Tyler said the project is still on schedule in terms of its overall scope.
“At this point, we’re still holding the completion date as is,” Tyler said Friday.
Clallam County awarded a $4.8 million construction contract to Scarsella Bros. in June.
All five bids that the county received were well under the $7.1 million engineer’s estimate.
Crews broke ground in August.
About 80 percent of the project is federally funded. The rest comes from the state and county real estate excise taxes.
Scarsella Bros. is the same contractor that the state hired to widen U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim and that the city of Port Angeles hired to replace the Lauridsen Boulevard bridge.
Clallam County officials have been working toward the Deer Park project for many years because of safety concerns.
There were four fatalities and numerous wrecks along that stretch of highway between 2001 and 2009.
Earlier plans to build an overpass instead of an underpass were scrapped because of costs and aesthetic impacts.
The idea of putting a stoplight at Deer Park Road was taken off the table because of worries about traffic impacts and vehicles getting stuck coming up the Morse Creek hill in icy conditions.
C’est Si Bon restaurant at 23 Cedar Park Drive remains open for business during construction of the underpass.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.