PORT ANGELES — Drivers can expect occasional delays this week as they cross the Elwha River bridge on U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles.
Crews are placing large boulders around the base of the bridge’s piers to curtail erosion in the advent of high water during an expected storm.
Drivers might find occasional one-lane traffic over the bridge for the rest of this week, said Claudia Bingham Baker, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, on Tuesday, but the hourlong delays drivers have experienced recently aren’t expected this week, although they might resume later.
Crews had been drilling bore samples along the bridge’s two piers to provide information on the type and depth of material under the bridge foundations.
The information gathered from the samples would help Transportation engineers decide what to do to make sure the piers are stable, according to Chris Keegan, regional operations engineer for Transportation, who said last week that the plan was to place boulders around the pier bases.
Workers have not collected all the data they need, Bingham Baker said Monday, but plans have changed because of a storm the National Weather Service has forecast to come into the area Friday.
It was decided to shore up the piers with rip-rap before the storm hits.
The bridge is safe, Keegan said last week, but the erosion around the piers “is a concern.”
Sediment from the former Lake Aldwell and high water have scoured the riverbed in which the piers sit, Keegan said, adding that the riverbed has been washed out 14 feet down since the Elwha Dam downstream was removed in 2012.
In drilling, crews are seeking bedrock, which would provide a solid foundation for stabilizing the piers.
Closures will likely begin again once drill and boring teams return to the site.
The Elwha Dam was removed along with the Glines Canyon Dam higher up the river as part of a $325 million National Park Service project to restore the Elwha River to its wild state.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.