Construction crews pour and level concrete on March 5 atop McDonald Creek Bridge after several weeks of rain and snow delays. Clallam County officials estimate the bridge will now reopen in mid-April. Sequim Gazette/Matthew Nash

Construction crews pour and level concrete on March 5 atop McDonald Creek Bridge after several weeks of rain and snow delays. Clallam County officials estimate the bridge will now reopen in mid-April. Sequim Gazette/Matthew Nash

Poor weather delays McDonald Creek Bridge opening to mid-April

Construction on the McDonald Creek Bridge has been delayed three to four weeks into mid-April, following initial estimates to complete the project this month.

Crews lost nearly a month because of recent snowfall and rain, said Pat McElroy, Clallam County bridge project engineer.

Prior to the wet and cold conditions, work to replace the 1957 bridge to make it more seismically stable and wider was going well and ahead of schedule, he said.

“Flat concrete work is weather-dependent and when we had the snow they couldn’t work at all,” McElroy said.

He said waiting for clear skies to pour the concrete deck cost them about a week-and-a-half too, but that upcoming concrete pouring work is all that remains of weather-dependent work for this project.

Clallam County officials originally estimated about nine months to complete the $3.07 million project and that they were optimistic to finish before that date.

McElroy said the county’s contractor, Orion Marine Contractors Inc. of Tacoma, remains on budget and has been granted additional working days due to bad weather into the first week of May.

However, McElroy said with better weather they anticipate finishing in mid-April.

The bridge closed on July 5 last year, leaving a portion of Old Olympic Highway unavailable to drivers.

Neighbors near the bridge particularly on North Barr Road report they’ve seen an increase in traffic including large commercial vehicles navigating the road’s tight corners and vehicles driving faster than the 35 mph limit.

County officials have shared alternate routes such as using US Highway 101 and backtrack on Kitchen-Dick Road or Shore Road.

County engineer Ross Tyler said previously that county staff is avoiding assigning specific detours but not deterring people from using roads like Barr Road and Lewis Road.

“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,” he said.

Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King with Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said they conducted some emphasis patrols around the bridge following neighbor’s complaints but haven’t seen any significant public safety impacts related to collisions and speeding.

“Fortunately, we are not seeing collisions increase as a result of increased traffic on the roadway,” King said.

He reports there haven’t been any vehicle collisions since the closure on Barr Road but a vehicle did strike a loose dog.

Clallam County Sheriff’s Office has also deployed its radar trailer at times to remind drivers of the speed limit, King said.

“We will continue to conduct random patrols on the arterials affected by the closure,” he said.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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