Three engineers from the Federal Highways Administration and Olympic National Park staff spent today assessing damage to the Hurricane Ridge Road and developing the preliminary design for repairing the slide area.
“We are pleased to report that plans are coming together quickly and we expect to have a contractor in place to begin repair work no later than this Friday,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. “We understand the importance of Hurricane Ridge to our region and we are fully committed to reopening the road as quickly as possible.”
“We are also committed to repairing the road in a way that absolutely minimizes the chances of this happening again, and a Federal Highways Administration geotechnical engineer will be here on Thursday to confirm details of the repair design,” explained Gustin.
The repair design calls for removing the remaining fine-grained fill, replacing it with a rock and gravel foundation, installing a larger culvert and rebuilding the road. Repairs are estimated to take six weeks to complete.
The road has been closed since Monday when a slope below the roadway slid downhill, taking with it most of both travel lanes along a 100-foot long section of road. The damaged site is just below the Heart O’the Hills entrance station, approximately five miles south of Port Angeles.
The road closure applies to all entry, including bicycle, foot, stock and vehicle. The slide area is still active, and soil is continuing to move down slope, undercutting the remaining narrow strip of asphalt and creating a hazard.
Park staff first saw signs of damage to the road late on Saturday afternoon, when members of the road crew noticed cracks in the road’s downhill lane just north of Heart O’the Hills. A safety inspection early on Sunday confirmed the initial reports and also revealed that slumping had occurred in the downhill lane. Travel was reduced to one-way only and flaggers guided traffic to use the uphill lane. Immediate repair action was taken as road crew members filled the cracks and spread gravel to protect and level the road.
The road was closed on Monday due to high winds and white-out conditions at Hurricane Ridge. Meanwhile, road crew members cut and removed a number of small trees on the slope beneath the road in an effort to protect and preserve the road, and had hoped to open the road later in the day. Less than an hour later, however, the slope failed and slid downhill, taking most of the road with it. The soils that make up the slope are completely saturated from recent heavy rains.
For information about alternative destinations within Olympic National Park, people may consult the park's website at www.nps.gov/olym or call the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 360-565-3130. The recorded Road and Weather Hotline is updated throughout the day with changes and can be reached by calling 360-565-3131.
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