SEQUIM — “So far, so good.”
That was Clallam County Engineer Ross Tyler’s assessment of the traffic situation one day after McDonald Creek Bridge was closed for reconstruction Monday morning.
It’s only the beginning, though. Closures are expected to last for eight to nine months.
“Hopefully, we will get it done in less than nine [months],” Tyler said.
“It’s going to take a little while for people to get their routines set up. Getting out on [U.S.] Highway 101 is going to take some adjustments.”
The bridge, which is on Old Olympic Highway just east of the intersection with North Barr Road, will be demolished in a $3.07 million project that will replace the 1957 bridge with one that is seismically stable and widen the roadway entrances to it from 24 feet to 40 feet.
The only announced detours are onto Highway 101 via Old Olympic Highway, Tyler said, but locals are urged to use side roads such as Kitchen-Dick, Barr or Shore.
“All the side roads are open,” Tyler said. “We didn’t want to route any outside traffic into those because they are narrow. So we avoided that by not making those detour routes.
“But we want to make sure the locals know those are perfectly acceptable. We’re not directing traffic to them because of the concern.”
He suggested that drivers not familiar with the area who are coming from the east should use Kitchen-Dick Road to Highway 101.
Drivers coming from the west off Highway 101 can turn onto Old Olympic Highway near the State Patrol office to reach Agnew businesses.
“It’s a little out of the way but easier to get through than side roads,” Tyler said.
Patrick McElroy, project engineer for the bridge, said several “Road Closed” signs are along the east and west sides of Old Olympic Highway.
McElroy also said there are signs on every side road that connects to Highway 101 that read “Use Highway 101” with an arrow that shows general motorists how to get to the highway.
With Sequim Lavender Weekend coming up July 21-23, McElroy said there are signs that say “Lavender” with an arrow to direct drivers who want to visit the two local lavender farms near the closures — Victor’s Lavender and Washington Lavender Farm — routing drivers to Kitchen-Dick Road to Highway 101 and then from the highway onto Shore Road.
“We will continue to update the [Clallam County] website with progress,” McElroy said.
For more information about the McDonald Creek Bridge reconstruction and closures, visit http://www.clallam.net/Roads/McDonaldCreek.html.