Switchover for U.S. Highway 101 lane slated for January
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Construction crews work to pave the approach to the new U.S. Highway 101 bridge over McDonald Creek west of Sequim on Thursday as traffic continues to use the old highway. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The state Department of Transportation will switch traffic onto the new lanes of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim next month.

The changeover is part of the state’s $27.1 million project to widen the highway to four lanes along a 3.5-mile, narrow stretch of highway between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads.

Project Manager Jerry Moore said the tentative plan is to make the switchover Jan. 6. He cautioned that exact date will depend on the weather and contractor availability over the holidays.

The newly-paved road surface still needs to be striped, and barriers for a new bridge over McDonald Creek remain to be completed.

Last week, crews with state-hired contractor Scarsella Bros. of Kent were pouring concrete for the barriers and laying asphalt between the bridge and Sherburne Road.

“We’re chipping away slowly but surely,” Moore said.

The new bridge will be used by motorists traveling in both directions until the project is finished in late 2014, at which point the new bridge will become an eastbound-only crossing.

The existing 1939 wooden trestle bridge will be leveled and rebuilt to serve two lanes of westbound traffic.

Significant rainfall in late September softened the soil under the new road bed before it was paved, delaying construction by several weeks.

Moore said crews are catching up, and the two-year project is still scheduled to be finished by the end next year.

Once completed, motorists will have two lanes of travel in both directions for the entire 13-mile distance between east Port Angeles and west Sequim.

Clallam County roads that bisect the highway are being raised or lowered to meet the highway’s new alignment.

The widening project will restrict left turns across the highway from several county roads. Motorists will have to turn right and change course at one of six looping U-turns.

The state project includes a 130-foot pedestrian tunnel through a box culvert at East Owl Creek near Kitchen-Dick Roads. More than half of that tunnel has already been installed.

During construction, the posted highway speed limit is 45 mph.

The speed limit will return to its original 55 mph after the work is done.

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

Last modified: December 27. 2013 9:49AM
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