Temporary Deer Park bypass switch scheduled Saturday — if it doesn’t rain
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A front loader works at the detour for U.S. Highway 101 near Deer Park Road this week in preparation for diverting traffic around excavations for an underpass east of Port Angeles. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Don’t be surprised if U.S. Highway 101 gets bumped onto a short 25 mph detour east of Port Angeles on Saturday, Clallam County officials said.

Although it may not happen then.

Both directions of the highway were scheduled to be moved onto a four-lane bypass south of the present roadway through the Deer Park underpass construction site at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday — if the weather cooperates.

“It’s still scheduled [for Saturday], but as was noted before, it’s highly weather-dependent,” Clallam County Engineer Ross Tyler.

“If it’s pouring down rain, unlikely. And right now, the weather forecast doesn’t seem good.”

Once the detour is in place, the bypass will be in effect for up to 90 days to allow crews to build an underpass beneath the existing highway to serve a new county road called Deer Park Loop.

The bypass cuts the corner of the highway at the east summit of the Morse Creek ravine near the Deer Park Cinema.

The speed limit will be reduced from 45 to 25 mph through the area because of the sharp turns from the highway onto and off the detour.

Deer Park Loop will pass under the highway through a pre-cast concrete arch tunnel.

The new county road will eliminate left turns across the four-lane highway from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive.

Clallam County last summer awarded Scarsella Bros. of Kent a $4.8 million construction contract to build the underpass and Deer Park Loop.

Tyler said the goal is to make the switch in “one day or less” to limit traffic disruptions.

“They’ll try for it, and if it doesn’t happen this weekend, they’ll just have to change the message on the signs and go for the next one,” Tyler said.

“We’ll be planning to do this until it happens. We’re just waiting for the weather.”

The National Weather Service on Thursday was calling for showers in the construction area today.

During the revision, left turns into and out of Buchanan Drive will be restricted. Detour signs will be in place.

The scenic overlook on the westbound side of the highway will be closed during the three-month revision, and the westbound bus stop will be temporarily moved to the northeast corner of the highway and Buchanan Drive.

Once the underpass is installed, Highway 101 will reclaim its existing grade and alignment.

Deer Park Loop will have a 10-foot-wide sidewalk to connect Deer Park Road on the south side of the highway to the Olympic Discovery Trail to the north.

The new county road is scheduled to open this summer.

The Olympic Discovery Trail will remain open during the traffic revision.

“If we do it this weekend or whenever the next available weekend is, they’ll be trying to start probably 7:30-ish in the morning,” Tyler said.

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

Last modified: February 13. 2014 6:32PM
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