For a few years, I have worked with my seatmates, Rep. Steve Tharinger and Rep. Mike Chapman— along with citizens and community leaders — to arrange funding to replace the Elwha River Bridge.
Now that we’ve secured funding in the last transportation budget, the state Department of Transportation is coming to our area this week to provide updates on the design progress of the Elwha River Bridge replacement project, share timelines for moving forward, and answer any questions you may have.
If you’re interested in the latest news, I encourage you to attend one of these three public meetings:
- 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Port Angeles City Council meeting at 321 East 5th St. in Port Angeles.
- 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Forks Business and Professional Association at 411 Tillicum Lane (Department of Natural Resources building) in Forks.
- Noon Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Forks Chamber of Commerce meeting at Blakeslee’s Bar & Grill at 1222 South Forks Ave. in Forks.
For those who can’t attend, I can share some general updates:
- The current Elwha River Bridge remains stable and open to all traffic, though motorists will need to be patient during the quarterly bridge inspections. Important progress has been made in the last 12 months on hydraulic and geotechnical reports, roadway alignment and plans for intersections. The first stage of bridge design is complete.
- DOT continues to analyze the project’s effects on air and water quality, noise, wetlands, cultural resources and other environmental elements and expect to complete its analysis by December.
- Once the federal government confirms that DOT has adequately reviewed, identified and mitigated for any environmental effects, DOT will apply for a Highway Easement Deed from Olympic National Parks to acquire the right to build the bridge on federal land. This will enable DOT to finalize all design and contract plans, acquire all permits needed for construction, and put the contract to build the bridge up for bid. The latest timeline anticipates construction between the summer of 2019 and the fall of 2020. That timeline is subject to change if the construction process runs into unexpected conditions or surprises.
As I learn more, I’ll continue to share updates on this important project for our district.