PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners declared a state of emergency to allow the county public works department to quickly move forward on repairing a section of Upper Hoh Road that was damaged during recent storms.
According to the report from Monte Reinders, public works director and county engineer, high flows from the Hoh River washed out sections of the road around milepost 8.
Small landslides caused by ground saturation also weakened and damaged roads throughout the county.
The declaration of a state of emergency allows public works to operate outside of regular order and quickly enter into contracts that would usually take a few weeks to be assessed and approved by the county.
An emergency declaration also makes the repairs done and expenditures made to fix Upper Hoh Road eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.
As of now there is no cost estimate from the public works department, but all expenditures will be taken out of the county road fund.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, Upper Hoh Road sees more than 80,000 vehicles annually.
Most of those are in the summer because it is one of the main access points for visitors looking to enter Olympic National Park from the west.
It also is the only access to the park’s Hoh Rain Forest visitor center, which is one of only four ranger stations that operate in the park year-round.
The road also is the only access road for business owners and residents in the area.
The road has been eyed by the county, U.S. Department of Transportation and the national park as a road that will need upgrades because warmer temperatures, erosion and less snow has resulted in the Hoh River shifting closer to the roadway, putting it at risk of more frequent flooding.
Last year, the road sustained similar damage and was closed in November due to the Hoh River undercutting sections of the road roughly five miles from the park boundary, making it unfit to drive on.