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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Beginning Monday, Olympic National Park road crew employees will begin long-awaited repairs to the Elwha Olympic Hot Springs Road, which was severely damaged during last winter's storms and flooding. Repairs are estimated to take eight weeks,giving hope that the road will reopen in early October.
For public safety and to expedite the repairs, the Olympic Hot Springs Road will be closed at the park boundary to all entry for the duration of the repair project, beginning Monday, July 25, through early October. The Madison Falls trail and parking area will remain open, but entry beyond that point will be closed.
"Crews will be working as quickly as possible to complete the necessary in-water work before spawning fish return in mid-August, so we are taking steps to avoid any interruptions to their work," said Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Lee Taylor. "As much as we regret the inconvenience of closing pedestrian access, any construction slowdowns jeopardize the chances of reopening the road to vehicles this year."
The park's road crew staff will complete the repairs, which include installation of a temporary bridge and construction of new bridge abutments, along with extensive road repair on both sides of the washout. Heavy equipment, loaded dump trucks and other construction vehicles will be using the road, creating significant hazards for anyone on the road.
The temporary bypass trail built around the washout earlier this year will also be closed.
A series of severe winter storms in November, December and January led to exceptionally high flows and flooding along the Elwha River. Approximately 90 feet of Olympic Hot Springs Road was washed out and additional sections were eroded and damaged by flood waters.
Precipitation in the Elwha Valley this winter measured 138 percent of normal, making this winter the fourth wettest in the 75-year record at the Elwha Ranger Station. In the four-month period from November through February, the Elwha River experienced a 25-year flood, a 10-year flood, two five-year floods and one two-year flood.
People interested in visiting sites related to Elwha River Restoration and dam removal are encouraged to stop at the Elwha River Interpretive Kiosk, located at Highway 112 and Lower Dam Road. Foot access to the former site of the Elwha Dam is also available from that location.
For more information about visiting Olympic National Park, people should visit http://www.nps.gov/olym.