FORKS — The three-year makeover of U.S. Highway 101 at Lake Crescent is about 30 percent complete, and crews have begun the most ambitious construction season in the project, an Olympic National Park official said.
Crews this year will concentrate on sub-excavation, milling, paving and erosion control, working their way from east to west along the steep shores of the iconic lake, park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said.
“The lion’s work of what’s happening is this season,” Wagner told 13 West End residents in a community forum in Forks on Thursday.
The $27.5 million federal project to rehabilitate 12 highway miles at Lake Crescent and 4-mile long East Beach Road commenced last summer. The work is scheduled to be completed on Sept. 26, 2019.
This year’s construction season began March 19.
Motorists can expect half-hour delays during work hours on weekdays, with short delays after 5 p.m. to accommodate single-lane, alternating traffic.
This month only, the road will be closed from East Beach Road to Barnes Point on weekdays between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
“March is one of the few periods where they can do work at night,” Wagner said, referring to federal protections for endangered species.
“That’s why you’re seeing overnight delays and the nighttime work hours.”
From April 2 through late September, construction can only occur between two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.
Limited four-hour closures will happen on weekdays prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day, Wagner said.
The four-hour closures will be announced in advance and will occur only between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“The contractor needs to continue these deep patches, all this sub-excavation work, and so they’re going to start out in the beginning of April and try to get all 20 of those four-hour closures done,” Wagner said.
“If they can, they’ll do them in a row, all 20. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the road is closed.”
No construction will occur on weekends or holidays.
The project is being managed by the Federal Highway Administration and the National Park Service.
Strider Construction, Inc., of Bellingham is the primary contractor.
“I know this is difficult,” Wagner said of the inconvenience to West End residents.
“I know the delays are really impacting your lives.”
Olympic National Park is posting updates about the project on a dedicated webpage. Click on http://tinyurl.com/PDN-101delays.
When the highway is closed, drivers can travel to and from the West End by using state Highways 112 and 113 as a detour.
A business owner suggested that a sign be added at the 101-113 cutoff in Sappho to remind motorists that businesses along U.S. Highway 101 remain open.
“We’ll try to come up with a sign that we can put at the detour sign that says ‘Road Closed at Crescent Lake’ to let people know that they don’t have to turn there,” said Marty Flores, on-site project engineer with Western Federal Lands Highway Division.
Ed Bowen of Clallam Bay suggested that the project managers plan for unforeseen circumstances like last year’s rock scaling work near milepost 229, which closed the highway for one week.
Another resident suggested adding banks to the flat S-curves on the west side of the lake.
Crews will add a slight bank in the corners when paving the surface, Flores said.
Wagner reviewed for the audience highlights of last year’s construction.
Crews poured 10,000 tons of asphalt on the highway at Fairholme Hill and 7,000 tons of asphalt on East Beach Road, Wagner said.
“All of East Beach Road paving was completed last year,” Wagner said.
Thirty culverts were installed under the highway and East Beach Road last year. Crews spent a combined 1,000 hours scaling marine basalt from the cliff east of Barnes Point.
“The rockfall work was completed last year, so there won’t be any additional work at the rock wall this year,” Wagner said.
This year, crews plan to sub-excavate 14,000 cubic yards of material from under the road surface.
The road will be milled to a depth of 7 1/2 inches beginning in late April and paved with 5 1/2 inches — or 60,000 tons — of asphalt beginning in May.
“There’s various areas around the lake where we have walls that need to be repaired,” Wagner added.
“That work is ongoing.”
In 2019, crews will install a two-inch asphalt overlay, stripe the road, replace signs, add masonry and improve the Clallam Transit bus stop at Barnes Point, Wagner said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.