Building a better bridge

Construction begins on Railroad Bridge, part of ODT closed

Construction begins on Railroad Bridge, part of ODT closed

by ALANA Linderoth

Sequim Gazette

Construction to build a pedestrian and bike bridge across the Dungeness River in Railroad Bridge Park began in late August.

After obtaining all the necessary permits and with the use of the design and engineering done by Otak, forward steps were taken toward a more modern, environmentally friendly river crossing aimed at replacing the damaged trestle.

“In my entire career of surveying, I’ve never seen such a fast turnaround on a project like this,” Rob Johnston, owner of Johnston Land Surveying, said.

On Monday, Johnston began the preliminary surveying to layout the horizontal and vertical controls needed to accurately build the 750-foot bridge. Following Johnston, contractors with Nordland Construction NW will come in and begin their work.

Throughout the construction window the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) from Runnion Road to the project area will be closed, but is anticipated to reopen by late December, along with the new river crossing.

Construction won’t impede the annual Dungeness River Festival from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday-Saturday, Sept. 25-26.

Railroad Bridge Park will remain open during most of the construction and Nordland Construction NW personnel will work to accommodate safe viewing of the work from the Howe Truss Railroad Bridge, according to officials with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe (owners of the park property, along with its structures).

The work to replace the trestle that was damaged during a storm in early February will include the removal of 38 creosote timber pile bent supports from the river bed to allow the river to move more naturally through this reach and create high quality salmon habitat, according to tribal officials.

Funding of the $1.53 million for the replacement project came from a Recreation and Conservation Office Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant. Several other sources of funding also will be used for the project, including tribal insurance proceeds, tribal transportation funding, a Bureau of Indian Affairs grant, a Floodplains by Design grant and a contribution from the Peninsula Trails Coalition.

Additionally, during construction the 150-foot, historical Dungeness Howe Truss Railroad Bridge will be re-decked utilizing a First Federal Community Foundation grant of $100,000. Although the late winter storm and heightened river conditions negatively impacted the trestle, the century-old bridge remained undamaged. The new bridge under way will simply connect to the truss and once again make for safe pubic passage across the Dungeness River.

Along with the engineering firm Otak, an advisory group consisting of representatives of the tribe, the Dungeness River Audubon Center, the River Center board, the Peninsula Trails Coalition, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity for Salmon and Clallam County chose the preferred alternative.