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US 101 Elwha River Bridge Replacement Project – Environmental Assessment – Public access and visual quality

Public access

During construction, all public parking and pedestrian access to the Elwha River and bank under the bridge and construction zone will be closed for safety. After construction, parking and pedestrian access to the river would return to normal pre-construction conditions. The Build Alternative maintains the current level of river access and parking with a different configuration due to the new bridge alignment and approach.

Aerial of intersection of US 101 and Olympic Hot Springs Road with proposed informal parking area and pedestrian trail
Intersection of US 101 and Olympic Hot Springs Road showing the proposed informal parking area and pedestrian trail.

For More Information

To read more about the public access, please see Section 3.4.13 of the EA (PDF 1.7MB).  

Visual Quality

Construction activities would have a temporary, negative impact on visual quality. Once all construction and demolition are complete, there would be gaps in vegetation until the newly planted areas become established, which can take 5-10 years before gaining a natural appearance. WSDOT’s will remove the least amount of natural vegetation as possible necessary to complete the project on time.

The new bridge will be a three-span concrete girder bridge, with two piers in the river channel. The new crossing with resemble a standard freeway overpass bridge and be built to current seismic standards. The east end of the bridge will sit at a higher elevation along US 101 to accommodate the more gentle travel curve along the corridor and improve safety and sight distance concerns. To support that new geometry, crews will construct five retaining walls as part of the project. US 101 is designated a National Scenic Byway as well as a State Scenic Highway, and the new guardrail would be treated with a weathering agent by USFS and scenic byway standards.

The Build Alternative would temporarily decrease visual quality in the project corridor during construction and while restoration areas develop. In the long term, the project area would have a high-quality visual character much like the current uninterrupted scenic byway.

For More Information

To read more about the visual quality, please see Section 3.4.14 of the EA (PDF 1.7MB).