Barb Maynes, a public information officer for Olympic National Park, talks about road construction in the park that could affect local tourism. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Barb Maynes, a public information officer for Olympic National Park, talks about road construction in the park that could affect local tourism. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Officials weigh Highway 101 road work impact on tourism

PORT TOWNSEND — A major impact on tourism to the North Olympic Peninsula is expected to be the rehabilitation of U.S. Highway 101 around Lake Crescent that will begin in March, officials said at the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Summit.

The National Park Service and Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau are helping businesses owners prepare for the disruption to the highway to the West End and many of Olympic National Park’s attractions during the summer months when the park and Peninsula are the busiest, said Marsha Massey, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau (OPVB), and Barb Maynes, park spokeswoman.

The two were discussing projects and issues that could impact 2017 tourism on Friday, the last day of the conference at Fort Worden.

The summit was a two-day conference at Fort Worden where local businesses and city officials from around the North Olympic Peninsula met to discuss how to continue growing tourism in the area. It was hosted by the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission in collaboration with the city of Port Townsend and Fort Worden.

“On Lake Crescent, we’re trying to get people ready for what’s going to happen,” Maynes said. “This is a huge project over the next three construction seasons.”

Starting in March 2017, the Park Service, with some help from the Federal Highway Administration, will begin a total rehabilitation of 12 miles of Highway 101 along Lake Crescent. The project will run from March through November of 2017, 2018 and is expected to be completed by November 2019.

“There’s going to be some delays,” Maynes said. “There’s going to need to be some pre-planning on everyone’s part this summer. We know this is a really important road and a really busy road, and it needs to be rehabbed.”

Thirty-minute delays are expected along with occasional four-hour delays — the latter of which will be announced two weeks in advance, according to Maynes.

Maynes said the roadwork could be an opportunity to induce people to stay longer in Forks and other West End areas so as to avoid delays — especially those four-hour delays, which will be mostly in the morning.

The OPVB plans to debut a new website and new mobile app in 2017 to make planning a trip to the Olympic Peninsula easy for tourists.

Ultimately, the Highway 101 construction project will be good for the park and surrounding communities, especially since the project also comes with upgrades to a bike trail on the opposite side of the lake, Maynes said.

“What we will all need to adjust to is we may not be able to use these areas the way we want when we want,” Maynes said. “The good news is we’ll have a new road and a new bike lane by 2019.”

According to Massey, Olympic National Park is hoping to continue to capitalize on the 2016 centennial celebration of the National Park Service.

“We will continue to see the lift from the national parks celebration,” Massey said. “I think we’ll see a bit of a halo effect.”

Massey said the OPVB hopes to bring in more visitors during the “shoulder seasons,” which are fall and spring — the seasons before and after the consistently busy summer months.

She said the hope is to focus on the growing population of 20-to-40-year-olds flocking to Seattle.

“That’s a market we really need to capitalize on,” Massey said.

Last year, the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission began looking at the shoulder seasons and reached out to another large population in the vicinity, Vancouver Island.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Work begins on sewer project

Intermittent closures planned in Port Hadlock

Clallam commissioners interested in section of forest for ODT

Clallam County commissioners plan to send a letter to… Continue reading

Deputy Mayor Navarra Carr accepts a Live United Award on behalf of the city of Port Angeles.
Port Angeles honored with Live United award

The city of Port Angeles was honored with a Live… Continue reading

Smoke vents from the rear car deck doors as firefighters battle a vehicle fire aboard the ferry MV Coho upon its afternoon arrival in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Crews evaluated after RV fire on Coho ferry

Combined training helped during incident, deputy chief says

Staff favors denial for rezone

Proposal would pave way for Dollar General Plus

Clallam Transit considering proposal for Narcan at Gateway center

Board members want time for more discussion before next meeting

Turns restricted during roundabout construction

Drivers at the intersection of state highways 104 and 19… Continue reading

Bridge closures canceled for May 17, May 18

Hood Canal bridge closures originally scheduled for this weekend have… Continue reading

Roxanne Pfiefer-Fisher, a volunteer with a team from Walmart, sorts through sections of what will become a slide during Wednesday’s opening day of a community rebuild of the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Volunteers flock to Dream Playground to start build

Group effort reminds organizers of efforts in 2021, 2002

Lawsuit over pool ban is planned

Lawyers say they’re suing city of Port Townsend, YMCA

Peninsula Behavioral Health adds 3 programs

Services help those experiencing psychosis, provide housing