Long delays around Lake Crescent halted for summer months

LAKE CRESCENT — Olympic National Park has suspended four-hour delays on U.S. Highway 101 at Lake Crescent on weekdays for the next three and a half months.

The announcement this week is an about-face from earlier plans.

Drivers should continue to expect half-hour delays at the lake from Mondays through Fridays during work hours.

The four-hour delays from Mondays through Thursdays will resume Sept. 3.

“To avoid excessive impacts on summer traffic, the road restoration repairs will begin after Labor Day,” park officials said in a Wednesday announcement.

“The work will require four-hour delays Monday through Thursday beginning Sept. 3. This work is anticipated to be completed within the 20-day closure (five work weeks) allowed by the contract,” according to the park’s press release.

The first plan was to avoid four-hour delays between Memorial Day and Labor Day to limit impacts on summer travel. But last week, park officials announced that the four-hour delays would continue on weekdays through June 13 to expedite the final phase of the $27.5 million, three-year project.

The four-hour delays, which began Monday and ended Thursday, are necessary for crews to restore the roadway width and shoulder area in front of a rock wall near milepost 229.

During construction this week, it became apparent that the June 13 target for completion was “not going to be feasible,” said Lisa Turecek, Olympic National Park chief of facility management.

“If we continued, we were committed to it,” Turecek said in a telephone interview.

“We decided it was too much risk of having extended traffic impacts into the summer.”

Park officials originally had planned to begin the four-hour delays mid-April, but it lacked a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work below the ordinary high water mark. That permit was received last week, allowing for construction earlier this week.

Crews this week stabilized slopes and placed riprap where gating baskets had failed near milepost 229.

“We were able to look at the site conditions a little more closely,” Turecek said

It was determined that that the remaining work would be “a little bit more involved” than previously thought, she said.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience,” Turecek said.

The Lake Crescent project is being managed by the Federal Highway Administration and the National Park Service.

Strider Construction Inc. of Bellingham is the contractor.

Remaining work that will occur this spring and summer includes sign replacement, paving the final 2½-inch layer of asphalt and striping.

Paving is set to begin June 3 and will last for six to eight weeks depending on weather, park officials said.

Paving near the rock wall will take place in the fall.

Weekday half-hour delays are restricted to two hours after sunrise to two hours before sunset.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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