Hurricane Ridge Road reopened in the rain

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Hurricane Ridge Road has officially reopened after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Heart O’ The Hills entrance gate.

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin presided over a short ceremony in light rain on Friday.

“On the count of three, let’s cut the ribbon and dedicate the reopening of Hurricane Ridge Road,” Gustin announced. “One, two, three!”

After the ceremony, park and government officials joined community members and construction managers for refreshments 12 miles farther up the scenic road at Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Entrance fees at Hurricane Ridge were not charged that day to encourage visitors to try out the newly re-surfaced road.

It was estimated that the $12 million project would take two years to finish, but the reconstruction, repaving and storm damage repairs project took one construction season to complete.

Gustin credited the early completion to good coordination between the agencies involved.

The project was a partnership of the Federal Lands Highway Program of the Federal Highway Administration, local contractor Lakeside Industries and the National Park Service.

“It really boils down to attention to detail, and being able to be flexible enough to make changes as needed,” said Gustin, who moved to the Pacific Northwest in July after serving as superintendent of Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee, Fla.

“I’ve worked across the country, and we’re lucky if a construction project finishes on time.”

Other speakers at the ribbon cutting were Clara Conner, Federal Highway Administration division engineer; Georges Peabody, Lakeside Industries project manager; and Russ Veenama, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Connor told the audience at Heart O’ The Hills that the project was a “total team effort.”

Work on the road, built in the late 1950s and last resurfaced in 1979, began in late April.

Three sections of road damaged during the December 2007 storm were repaired, and conduits to carry utility lines to Hurricane Ridge have been installed.

Hurricane Ridge begins its winter schedule on Nov. 21.

Barring closures for inclement weather, the road will be open from 9 a.m. to dusk Friday through Sunday until March 29.

For the holidays, it will remain open daily Dec. 19 through Jan. 4. Hurricane Ridge Road will also be open on Jan. 19 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Feb. 16 for Presidents Day.

Downhill skiing is scheduled to begin on Dec. 13. The ski tows will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through March 29, snow permitting.

Information about Hurricane Ridge Road and weather conditions is available at 360-565-3131.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.olli[email protected]

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