PORT ANGELES — A regularly scheduled inspection of the Elwha River bridge will necessitate one-way alternating traffic across the bridge on U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles on Monday.
Alternating traffic will be needed during morning hours and possibly early afternoon hours because of the size of the equipment needed for the inspection, said Claudia Bingham Baker, communications manager for the state Department of Transportation.
Severe weather could prompt rescheduling, she said.
Last year, officials discovered the two bridge piers sat atop gravel and not bedrock; the now-wild river was eating away at the riverbed under the bridge.
The effort to replace the 90-year-old bridge began in October 2016. Transportation plans to replace the 90-year-old bridge with a new bridge on a new alignment in a project costing about $29.5 million. The bridge is expected to be 36 feet wide with 12-foot lanes for vehicles and 6-foot pedestrian lanes.
In the meantime, engineers are monitoring the bridge. The last inspection in August revealed that the bridge was remaining stable, Baker said, and engineers continue to monitor the bridge using tilt meters, crack meters and river flow gauges.
In August, crews placed another 1,577 tons of riprap (large rocks) near the bridge piers and west abutment to further stabilize the bridge for the upcoming winter season.
Crews have taken geotechnical borings of the soils along the proposed new alignment — Alternative 7 — to determine the makeup of the soils so that engineers know the depth of piers needed to support a new structure.
Transportation also is doing environmental work required, Baker said.
The environmental NEPA document is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, “which would then allow us to apply for necessary permits and acquire land needed for the new alignment,” Baker said.
“Assuming no unforeseen complications arise, that timeline puts bridge construction starting in mid-2019.”
More information is available at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Elwhabridge.
Over the summer, Transportation finished several projects on highways in Clallam County, Baker said.
• State Highway 112 chip-seal — Most of the length of the highway was chip-sealed early in the summer.
• U.S. Highway 101 Sol Duc bridges — Crews repainted two steel bridges spanning the Sol Duc River.
• State Highway 112 Nordstrom Creek and Highway 101 Matriotti Creek fish barriers — Both of these projects involved excavating the road, removing culverts that were barriers to migrating fish, installing substantially larger culverts and repaving the road. The majority of work is complete at both locations, with only minor items left.
• State Highway 112 stabilize slopes — Closer to Neah Bay, crews stabilized the hillside at two locations on Highway 112 to better support the roadway.
• Highway 101 Sol Duc bridge — Work on a third bridge across the Sol Duc River on Highway 101 involved reinforcing and replacing some steel bridge components that were damaged when hit by an over-height load a few years ago. That project was finished Nov. 8.