McDonald Creek Bridge officially closed on the morning of Monday, July 10, for reconstruction with closures expected to remain an estimated eight to nine months.
Ross Tyler, county engineer for the Clallam County Road Department, said the department will try to update the Clallam County website as the project progresses to keep residents and drivers up-to-date on when the project will officially be completed.
“Hopefully, we will get it done in less than nine (months),” Tyler said.
Tyler said the department is avoiding saying it has assigned a set detour and is suggesting drivers not familiar with the area use the main roads such as US Highway 101.
He said drivers coming from the east should use Kitchen-Dick Road to Highway 101, then from Highway 101 to Old Olympic Highway near the State Patrol office.
Drivers coming from the west off Highway 101 can turn onto Old Olympic Highway near the State Patrol office to reach Agnew businesses.
“It’s a little out of the way but easier to get through than side roads,” Tyler said, referring to drivers not familiar with the area.
For locals, Tyler suggests drivers use side roads such as Barr Road, Lewis Road, Shore Road or Old Olympic Highway.
“If locals want to use Barr Road or Lewis Road or any of those, they are welcome to do so,” Ross said. “We’re not saying they can’t — we don’t want to direct any more traffic to those minimal roads more than we have to.”
Patrick McElroy, project engineer for the bridge, said there are several “Road Closed” signs along the east and west sides of Old Olympic Highway.
McElroy also said there are signs on every side road that connects to Highway 101 that reads “Use Highway 101” with an arrow that shows general motorists how to get to the highway.
With Sequim Lavender Weekend two weekends away, McElroy said there are signs that say “Lavender” with an arrow to direct traffic that wish to visit the two local lavender farms near the closures — Victor’s Lavender and Washington Lavender Farm — routing drivers to Kitchen-Dick Road to Highway 101 and then from the highway onto Shore Road.
Victor Gonzalez, owner of Victor’s Lavender Farm, which sits half-a-mile west of the bridge at 3743 Old Olympic Highway, Port Angeles, said he anticipates the closure will impact his business.
However, he recently opened an extension farm with family members, Meli’s Lavender Farm, 62 W. Diane Dr., in Sequim, to increase his reach.
Officials from the Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (1033 N. Barr Road) and Peninsula Evangelical Friends Church (1201 N. Barr Road) said services will not be affected by the closures, and that attendees and visitors should take US Highway 101 to North Barr Road and follow the road north.
Dan and Janet Abbott, owners of George Washington Inn, 939 Finn Hall Road, which is more than two miles west of the bridge, previously said they prepared for Sequim Lavender Weekend by making sure in publications the preferred route to their inn and Washington Lavender Festival on July 21-23.
However, they fear visitors will opt to eat outside of Sequim due to potential frustrations with driving in the Agnew area.
“We will continue to update the (Clallam County) website with progress,” McElroy said.
For more information about the McDonald Creek Bridge reconstruction and closures, visit http://www.clallam.net/Roads/McDonaldCreek.html.