Snow-covered mountains surround the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in 2009. (Peninsula Daily News)

Snow-covered mountains surround the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in 2009. (Peninsula Daily News)

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center project gets $8M

Construction set for spring 2023

PORT ANGELES — Major renovations totaling $8.2 million, including roof replacement, are in store for the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, which is out of compliance with construction and accessibility codes.

“It is almost literally falling apart,” acting Park Superintendent Lee Taylor said Wednesday.

“It is definitely in need of tender, loving care.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell announced earlier Wednesday a $7 million appropriation for the renovation from Interior’s Great American Outdoors Act-National Parks and Public Land Restoration Fund.

The Olympic National Park project has $950,000 in funding to date, according to a National Park Service data sheet on the project at www.doi.gov.

“We worked very hard in the lands package that we did to really, for the first time in many years, to upgrade our infrastructure so there are improvements at Hurricane Ridge that will get done, enhancing the park’s ability to continue to operate in a successful way and attract more people in the future with these improvements,” Cantwell said at a Clallam County Economic Development Council Zoom presentation.

The park is seeking an additional $200,000 for temporary facilities such as trailer restrooms during a partial visitor center closure period, Taylor said.

Cantwell also discussed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Congress approved in November. She said it benefited public transit and salmon restoration and funded bridge renovations, citing Clallam County West End spans in need of repair on state Highway 112 over Bullman Creek and on U.S. Highway 101 over the Sol Duc River.

The Visitor Center, which sits at the end of Hurricane Ridge Road at 5,242 feet, is known for sweeping, peak-studded vistas of the Bailey Range and 7,980-foot Mount Olympus.

The construction award process for the Visitor Center will begin by June with construction beginning in spring 2023 and completed by fall 2024, Taylor said.

The building will be closed from spring 2023 through spring 2024. For the summer and fall of 2024, the building will be partially open, with restrooms completed, Taylor said.

She said work on the exterior will include sidewalk renovation and edging of the parking lot to make sure it meets accessibility standards.

Interior lighting and the floor of the building also will be redone.

The data sheet said the project will bring the facility into compliance with structural, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, fire, and accessibility codes.

“Structural issues resulting in air and water penetration into the building will be resolved, it said.

Electrical and plumbing systems, fire detection and notification systems, and the elevator will be upgraded to meet current code, according to the data sheet, which said the systems and building elements in the project have reached the end of their life cycles.

“The roof will be replaced and structurally improved, windows, doors, exterior wall covering and floor coverings will be replaced, and interior walls will be repainted,” according to the report.

“The restrooms, interior and exterior access routes, and parking will be improved to comply with the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards.

“Extensive concrete work and modification of the unisex restroom adjacent to the main level entry will be completed to provide two restrooms and rehabilitation of the three lower level restrooms.

“Component renewal of the heating and ventilation system and the underground fuel storage tank that serves the system will be completed.”

The visitor center was last renovated nearly 40 years ago, in 1983.

“Following construction, the building will be safer, more energy efficient, and fully accessible for 300,000 annual visitors,” according to the report.

The facilities and systems upgraded by the project should not require renovation for 25 to 40 years, according to data sheet.

Without the renovations, due to severe weather conditions, “catastrophic damage” could occur on the structure with a risk of injury to visitors and staff, according to the report.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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