New beaches take shape along Port Angeles waterfront as work moves on schedule
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The initial excavation for two new beaches that will make up a new park near downtown Port Angeles is seen from the observation tower at the Valley Creek estuary on Friday. — Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The clatter of rocks falling from excavator buckets is the sound of creation as two new beaches take form on the waterfront.

Crews with Bruch and Bruch Construction Inc. of Port Angeles are carving out the “pocket beaches,” the first step in creating a new park, between the Valley Creek estuary to the west and the waterfront esplanade.

“So far, we're on schedule,” said Dan McNay, project manager with Vanir Construction Management, a Bellevue firm that is managing the $1.01 million beach-building project, as he watched excavators and loaders lumbering along on the construction site Friday.

Bruch and Bruch crews began moving compacted fill dirt and other material from the Port Angeles Harbor shoreline just west of the city's waterfront esplanade July 11, he said.

The beaches are the first of three projects in the $3.62 million second phase — which is the building of a 3-acre park — of the city's $17 million waterfront transportation improvement plan for the waterfront from the Valley Creek estuary to City Pier.

The first phase was the
$3.9 million esplanade and streetside improvements along West Railroad Avenue that opened in August last year.

The other two portions of the second phase will install a paved path taking the Olympic Discovery Trail through the new park to the esplanade and add three public plazas to the city-owned land along the water just west of North Oak Street.

A 7-ton sculpture depicting a whale vertebra, which was shifted slightly from its spot near Valley Estuary Creek in April, will be at the center of one of the plazas.

The construction costs of all three portions of the park is expected to be about $2.48 million, West said.

With project contingency, design and project management costs included, the total project expenses are about $3.62 million, West said.

City staff have secured between $1.7 million and $1.8 million in federal and state grants for the construction of the park, West said. The city will pay for the remainder.

The third phase will be improvements to the east end of Railroad Avenue near City Pier.

Nathan West, the city's community and economic development director, said planning staff have internally referred to the development as West End Park, though it has not been officially named.

West said city planners have heard concerns from members of the West End communities of Clallam Bay and Sekiu about the city bestowing the “West End” moniker on a Port Angeles city park.

“At this point, we have not explored or looked into naming that portion of the project,” he said.

McNay said that so far, between 14,000 and 17,000 cubic yards of material have been excavated from the beach areas and trucked to the city's transfer station.

The dirt eventually will be used in a $21.2 million effort to shift hundreds of thousands of pounds of buried waste in the city's shuttered landfill back from a failing bluff along the Strait of Juan de Fuca in west Port Angeles.

“Basically, all the material here will be reused,” McNay said.

When the beaches are completed, likely by October or November, McNay said, about 10,400 tons of beach cobble, gravel and sand will have been placed on the shoreline to form the new beaches.

All the rock used will come from gravel pits in Clallam County, he added.

The beaches will be layered with cobble, gravel and then sand designed to let incoming waves drain through it and behave as much like a naturally formed beach as possible, he said.

The area will be closed to the public until the next two portions of the park, to be built one at a time, are done next spring, West said.

Detour signs direct pedestrian traffic from the sidewalk on the north side of Front Street to the sidewalk on the south side starting at South Oak Street west to Valley Creek Estuary Park.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 27. 2014 9:21AM
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