Weather becomes an issue for U.S. 101 widening project between Port Angeles, Sequim
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Traffic passes by a new bridge being built over McDonald Creek as part of a project to complete U.S. 101 as a four-lane highway between Port Angeles and Sequim. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — State transportation officials are hoping for more dry weather to drain the waterlogged soil that has delayed the paving of two new lanes of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim.

Heavy rains in late September left “soft spots” under the new roadbed that runs parallel to the existing highway on a 3.5-mile stretch between Shore and Kitchen-Dick roads, officials said.

“We are, right now, at the mercy of the weather,” said Project Manager Jerry Moore with the state Department of Transportation.

“We are getting down crushed rock as much as we can, but we need it to be dry.”

Once the new lanes are paved and the new McDonald Creek bridge is finished, highway traffic will rerouted onto the new alignment.

Next year, the existing road surface and wooden trestle bridge over McDonald Creek will be ripped apart and rebuilt as part of the state's $27.1 million safety upgrade.

The long-awaited project will replace the last stretch of two-lane highway between Port Angeles and Sequim with four lanes of divided highway.

Transportation officials are meeting regularly with Kent contractor Scarsella Brothers Inc., to assess the moisture in the soil.

“We're in a watch-and-see mode,” Moore said.

“We're staying positively optimistic, but it's straining our optimism.”

Despite the weather delay, Moore said the overall project is on budget and still scheduled to be completed by late next year.

Crews are working to complete the new bridge and knocking out other non-weather-sensitive tasks such as seeding and erosion control.

A pedestrian tunnel on the east end of the project area is about halfway installed, Moore said.

Should the weather keep the new lanes from being paved through the winter, the state will devise a “Plan B” for getting traffic onto the new bridge, Moore said.

“Right now, the focus is trying to get things done on Plan A,” he added.

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

Last modified: October 27. 2013 6:33PM
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