State to lower speed along U.S. 101 work stretch in wake of fatal crash
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
The three vehicles involved in last Monday morning's fatal crash sit on the south side of U.S. Highway 101 near Dryke Road west of Sequim.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

AGNEW — Prepare to drive 45 mph beginning Tuesday on a 3.5-mile, construction-busy stretch of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim.

That's where a 52-year-old man died last week in a three-vehicle collision along the two-lane stretch that remained 55 mph after work crews began a widening project.

The state Department of Transportation will lower the speed limit Tuesday just as soon as workers install new speed-limit signs along the highway between Shore and Kitchen-Dick roads.

It's where workers with heavy equipment are widening it from to two to four lanes — and where drivers may be getting distracted by all the construction fuss,” Project Engineer Jerry Moore said Friday.

“I'm trying to rush-order the signs in.”

Since the collision, residents have expressed concerns about the 55-mph speed limit, he said.

“We are responding to [the concern that] maybe there is an issue of too many people not paying attention to the roadway,” Moore added.

“We are responding to people's questions, asking is there something to do.”

Bryan Crawford of Port Angeles was traveling eastbound at 8:30 a.m. Monday when he was struck by one of two vehicles that had collided in the westbound lane after one of those vehicles had struck the other from the rear, the State Patrol said.

Crawford died at the scene, the State Patrol said.

Kayla Walls, 22, of Cedar City, Utah, the driver of the vehicle in front that was traveling westbound, had stopped to make a left turn across the eastbound lane.

Left turns will not be allowed once the $27 million widening project is completed by the end of summer 2014.

Stewart Wyckoff, 28, of Poulsbo was driving a flatbed truck that struck Walls' car, which then struck Crawford's pickup truck, causing it to overturn, the State Patrol said.

John McMahon, 42, of Port Angeles, a passenger in Crawford's truck, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was reported in satisfactory condition Tuesday.

His condition was unavailable from Harborview early Friday evening.

Walls, Wyckoff and two other passengers involved in the collision were not seriously injured, the State Patrol said.

The collision shut down that portion of Highway 101 for more than five hours.

The stretch between Port Angeles and Sequim is being widened to four lanes to match the road width along the rest of the two-city stretch that's more than 15 miles.

The speed limit is 55 mph in both the two- and four-lane sections, and with workers preparing land just south of the roadway for new traffic lanes, the activity is distracting drivers, Moore said.

“There's no guarantee this will work,” he said of the speed reduction to 45 mph.

“If someone still stops to make a left turn and someone plows into them at 45 miles an hour, it's going to be ugly.”

Moore added: “My advice is, when you are driving through a construction zone, you need to first focus on driving the car through the construction and not care about your 'lookie-louing' and other distractions.”

Moore said Transportation officials already had planned to lower the speed limit to 45 mph in October, when traffic will be moved to two new lanes on the south side of the road while workers begin improving the two existing north-side lanes.

Crawford's son Nicholas, 19, one of Crawford's eight children, also was a passenger in his father's pickup truck — and was uninjured.

Corbin Reneman, 20, of Sequim, a passenger in Walls' car, was treated and released at Olympic Medical Center.

Wyckoff, who was treated and released at Olympic Medical Center, faces a possible infraction for following to close or traveling too fast for conditions, State Patrol spokesman Russ Winger said Friday.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 25. 2013 8:35PM
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