An excavator loads pieces of old roadway into a dump truck at the site of a washout on Olympic Hot Springs Road in the Elwha Valley of Olympic National Park in July. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

An excavator loads pieces of old roadway into a dump truck at the site of a washout on Olympic Hot Springs Road in the Elwha Valley of Olympic National Park in July. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Hot Springs Road reopens to pedestrians, cyclists on weekends

It will take an estimated four to six weeks to complete the project, officials said.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Olympic Hot Springs Road will reopen to pedestrians and bicyclists on weekends beginning today, but the storm-damaged road in the Elwha Valley will remain closed to vehicles until October.

Olympic National Park road crews have installed a temporary bridge over a washout and have made “significant progress” on road repairs, park officials said.

The road has been closed to all entry at the park boundary near Madison Falls since the repairs began in late July.

“Crews have successfully completed the necessary in-water work and the temporary bridge is in place,” said Rachel Spector, Olympic National Park acting superintendent, in a Thursday news release.

“Our crews no longer need to work seven days a week, so we are reopening the road for bicycle and pedestrian use on the weekends.”

The road will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists from noon today through 6 p.m. Monday.

On subsequent weekends, the road will be open for non-motorized use from noon Fridays through 6 p.m. Sundays.

The road will remain closed to all entry from Mondays through Fridays as heavy equipment, loaded dump trucks and other construction vehicles will pose significant hazards during the workweek, park officials said.

It will take an estimated four to six weeks to complete the project, which includes extensive road repair on both sides of the washout, officials said.

The Madison Falls trail and parking area just outside the gate remain open.

A series of storms last November, December and January led to exceptionally high flows and flooding along the Elwha River.

About 90 feet of Olympic Hot Springs Road washed out and other sections were eroded and damaged by floodwaters, park officials said.

Precipitation in the Elwha Valley was 138 percent of normal last winter, making it the fourth wettest in the 75-year record at the Elwha Ranger Station, officials said.

From November to February, the Elwha River experienced a 25-year flood, a 10-year flood, two five-year floods and one two-year flood, according to the park.

Those interested in the Elwha River restoration and dam removal project are encouraged to visit the Elwha River interpretive kiosk at state Highway 112 and Lower Dam Road just west of Port Angeles.

Foot access to the former site of the Elwha Dam is available.

For information about Olympic National Park, visit www.nps.gov/olym.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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