Olympic National Park seeks comment for bridge project

Log jams to mimic natural river dynamics

PORT ANGELES — Olympic National Park officials are seeking public comment on building 12 engineered log jams required as mitigation for the Elwha River Bridge replacement project.

An environmental assessment states the 12 proposed structures are designed to mimic natural river dynamics to compensate for impacts caused by the $36 million construction project, according to a press release from Olympic National Park.

Comments will be accepted beginning Sunday and running through Nov. 22. They can be submitted online at https:// parkplanning.nps.gov/project Home.cfm?projectId=116039, a website that also has more information about the project, or through the U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Olympic National Park, Attn: Superintendent Sula Jacobs, WSDOT ELJ EA, 600 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

There are no scheduled public meetings. Comments will not be accepted by phone or email.

The information obtained during the public review period will be used to make any final edits to the environmental assessment. The decision document for this environmental assessment is anticipated to be released this winter.

In April, the state Department of Transportation began construction to replace the existing bridge, which was built in 1926.

The new bridge will be 40 feet wide (the current bridge is 28 feet wide) and accommodate two 12-foot lanes with two 8-foot shoulders to provide more room for bicyclists and pedestrians, according to the Department of Transportation’s website.

The new alignment with U.S. 101/Olympic Hot Springs Road also will have a more gentle curvature, with a higher design speed (35 mph) at the east end of the bridge.

The log jams are required as mitigation after consultation with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, under asserted treaty rights, and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with Clean Water Act requirements, a press release said.

A portion of the project is being built on lands temporarily administered by Olympic National Park but not within the park boundary.

According to the Department of Transportation’s website, the area around the bridge has been cleared and access roads built. Drivers should expect intermittent one-way alternating traffic with either flaggers or short-term traffic stops near the current bridge.

The access roads will allow the construction crew to begin drilling shafts for the outer piers of the new bridge. Large cranes will be visible near the roadway.

Girder setting for the new bridge will occur in early November and will be done at night. Traffic will be stopped for about 30 minutes each time a girder is set.

Near the completion of bridge construction, likely in late 2024, U.S. Highway 101 will be closed for nine days to allow the construction crew to complete the tie ends and finish paving. Drivers will have to detour on state Highway 112 and state Highway 113.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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