Monday, June 26, 2023

Be prepared for road work if planning summer trips around Olympic Peninsula

By Cara Mitchell

If your list for summer getaways this year includes doing the loop around Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, then this blog is for you! We have several work zones on US 101 and adjacent state highways all the way around the peninsula that you will want to prepare for. The peninsula includes Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Clallam, and Mason counties, and right in the middle sits Olympic National Park.

Some of these work zones are hundreds of miles apart. Yet they all have one thing in common: fish.

We correct fish barriers on state highways to help salmon recovery and comply with state laws. While we have restored hundreds of barriers since 1991, we have a lot of work ahead of us. You can read more about this effort on our fish passage webpage. Let's dive into our planned construction for July and August around the peninsula where detours and potential added travel time will be needed.

There are only certain windows where work crews are allowed to be in the water
for fish barrier work, and those are often in the middle of the summer.

Grays Harbor County

State Route 8

As you’re heading to or from the beach this summer, be aware that we are resurfacing more than 20 miles of SR 8 between US 101 and US 12. Most of the work is eastbound and the speed limit is reduced to 45 mph in the work zones. Travelers will see daytime and nighttime lane closures. The good news is once the work is finished, you’ll have a smoother ride.

Project webpage: SR 8/US 12 to US 101 - Paving

In addition to paving SR 8, crews are setting up two work zones on either side of McCleary. You may see some single-lane closures on your trip as these work zones are established throughout the summer. Crews are replacing outdated culverts under the highway and the speed limit is reduced to 50 mph through the work zones.

US 12 between Elma and Montesano

We are correcting three culverts under US 12 between Elma and Montesano and to do this, crews will reduce US 12 to a single lane in each direction at each culvert site as work progresses. Reduced speed limits will also be in place through the work zones.

Project webpage: US 12 – SR 8 – Grays Harbor County Fish Passage Barriers

US 101 north of Hoquiam

We have six locations about 10 miles north of Hoquiam where culverts under US 101 are barriers to fish. This summer, three of those locations will have US 101 reduced to a single lane and drivers will go through the work zone with one-way alternating traffic controlled by temporary signals. 

At the remaining three locations, from 8 p.m. Sunday, July 9 until 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, two miles of US 101 will close to all travelers between Failor Lake Road and Larson Brothers Road. The 23-mile signed detour will be in place that starts and/or ends near Aberdeen and Youmans Road, depending on the direction you’re traveling. The route will be signed so drivers know where they are going. This video shows the detour route so you know what to expect before you head out.

Project webpage: US 101 Grays Harbor Creeks

US 101 in Clallam County, east of Sequim

The next culvert location you should know about is on US 101 east of Port Angeles and Sequim. From 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13 through the evening of Friday, Aug. 18, US 101 will be reduced to a single lane near the Clallam and Jefferson County line between Guiles/Knapp Road and Chicken Coop/Diamond Point Road. Traffic will alternate, controlled by a signal, around-the-clock.

This is an area with no good alternate routes. Travelers approaching the work zone will see up to three-hour delays approaching the work zone, depending on the time of day, and even which day you travel.

Based on our traffic modeling, the days with the longest backups will be the afternoon and early evenings of Monday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday look slightly better, but we're still looking at waiting 60 minutes versus 90 minutes to get past the work zone. The term “better” is relative.

If you must travel through the area, be prepared for hours-long delays approaching the work zone.

Historically, every time our crews close a lane of US 101 for ongoing maintenance or emergency repairs, the traffic backups are challenging. Local roads near US 101 need to be preserved for local access only, especially for emergency responders. We need your help to keep traffic backups to a minimum during this week in August. If you can, please travel during non-peak hours. Go early, stay late, telework or carpool or use transit if you can.

Project webpage: US 101 Jefferson and Clallam Counties Fish Barriers

US 101 in Jefferson County near Quilcene

For no more than 25 consecutive days between July 16, and Aug. 19, a section of US 101 near Quilcene will close to replace the box culverts under the highway near Leland Valley Cut-Off Road. All traffic will detour around the construction using Center Road. Freight haulers will need to detour during construction via SR 3 and SR 104 as the Little Quilcene River Bridge on Center Road has load weight restrictions in place.

Tractor trailers with three axles or less over 23 tons will need to follow the detour route. Commercial freight haulers with up to seven axles over 36 tons will also need to follow the detour route. We will update the project webpage with the specific dates of the closure once they are confirmed.

Project webpage: US 101 – Leland Creek and Unnamed Tributaries

SR 106 in Mason County by Twanoh State Park

If you use SR 106 from SR 3 and Belfair over to US 101 and Hood Canal, plan for delays and a detour. From June 19 to July 9 and again from July 31 to Sept. 1, travelers will see intermittent one-way alternating traffic and delays with traffic stops up to 15 minutes during construction near Twanoh State Park.

An around-the-clock closure of SR 106 at Twanoh State Park is planned between July 10 and July 30. Travelers will detour using US 101 and SR 3 through Shelton.

Project webpage: SR 106/Twanoh Creek – Remove Fish Barrier

Planning around fish, and your summer vacation

Fish passage projects have approved dates for when crews are allowed to work in the water. Often those dates occur in July and August, which is coincidently, the same time as summer vacations. Our goal is to keep both people and the project moving. If the terrain and surrounding area allows, we’re able to build temporary roads around culverts that we are replacing. This helps keep summer travelers moving while our contractors work on the projects. Sometimes the terrain or landscape doesn’t allow temporary roads to be built. In those instances, we work with local city and county partners to find detours routes using pre-established streets and roads. This allows us to get the work completed faster, potentially minimizing the overall impacts to travelers during the work.

Safety first

We said this before, and we’re saying it again: please help keep road workers safe. Anytime you’re approaching a work zone please remember to:

  • Slow down – drive the posted speeds, they are there for your safety.
  • Be kind – our workers are out there helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
  • Pay attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put your phone down when behind the wheel.
  • Stay calm – expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.

Please download our app and follow us on social media before venturing into the rainforest or to a windswept beach. Project timelines can and do change. We will update closure information on our app, project webpages and social media as it becomes available.

Know before you go and stay informed on the road

Check real time travel conditions, view cameras and travel times


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Email updates

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Highway Advisory Radio (HAR)

Olympic Peninsula travelers can listen to the Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) at the following frequencies:

  • Hood Canal Bridge at SR 104: 530 KHz
  • Kingston Ferry Terminal: 1610 KHz
  • US 101 at SR 20: 1580 KHz
  • US 101 at SR 113: 1580 KHz
  • US 101 at SR 112: 1580 KHz


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1 comment:

Liz said...

Hwy 101 from Dimond point to sr 20 to Port Townsend is like driving on the mountain road
I have been driving this hwy for 35 yrs to work and its the worst I have drove on are you every going to fix is stead of patch job . and SR 20 is really bad road falling in and the
patch jobs are not working for the traffic on 101 and SR 20

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