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Contact: Penny Wagner, 360-565-3005
PORT ANGELES, WA: The final phase of work for the Spruce Railroad Trail Project at Lake Crescent is now complete. The trail improvements were part of a multi-year collaborative project to establish the entire 10-mile length of the Olympic Discovery Trail section on the north shore of Lake Crescent as a universally accessible, multipurpose trail to be shared by hikers, bicyclists, equestrians, and people traveling in wheelchairs. The Spruce Railroad Trail Project was a partnership between Clallam County and Olympic National Park. Federal Highway Administration staff provided construction management and general contract oversight.
“We are delighted to announce the reopening of the Spruce Railroad Trail and the creation of nearly ten miles of accessible trail for the public to enjoy,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “The success of this project is a result of government at every level collaborating for the benefit of the community.”
The final portion of the multiphase project involved a $5 million contract that was awarded to Bruch & Bruch Construction of Port Angeles. The park received close to $1 million for this final contract through the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 which provides cost-sharing funds to the National Park Service (NPS) to improve infrastructure. Clallam County provided funding from a combination of other local, state, and federal sources for the remainder of the contract including an approximately $2 million grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board under the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program; $100,000 federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant; $858,000 of federal Surface Transportation Program funding; $750,000 of County funding; and $50,000 from the local Peninsula Trails Coalition.
Funding for the various phases of the project involved a wide range of county, state and federal sources including cyclic maintenance funds and park entrance fee revenue (National Park Service), Helium Stewardship Act funding (National Park Service), Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office funding through Clallam County, grants from the Transportation Alternatives and Surface Transportation programs, Clallam County transportation funding, the Federal Lands Transportation Program, and the Federal Lands Access Program.
“This project completes the 10-mile Olympic Discovery Trail section around the north shore of Lake Crescent connecting to existing trail sections to the east and west,” said Clallam County Transportation Program Manager Steve Gray. “It provides bicyclists a non-motorized route around the lake so they do not have to travel on busy Highway 101.”
The Peninsula Trails Coalition (PTC), as the spearheading organization for the completion of the Olympic Discovery Trail, has advocated for and supported the project since its beginning, providing in-kind and other support of grants. As PTC Board President Jeff Bohman notes, “This lakeside portion of the ODT will undoubtedly come to be regarded as the signature jewel amongst many jewels along the trail. We commend Clallam County, Olympic National Park, and contractor Bruch & Bruch for seeing this challenging project through to a first-class achievement.”
This final phase of the multiyear project included the restoration of the Daley Rankin Tunnel; completion of the final two miles of trail improvements; rockfall mitigation; retaining wall construction; and paving the length of the trail and the Lyre River Trailhead parking area. The paved portion of the trail is eight feet wide with a gravel shoulder. Previous contracts included bank stabilization, culvert installation, and demolition and removal of a park-owned structure to allow for construction of a new parking lot at the Lyre River Trailhead with additional parking for oversized vehicles and a horse trailer turn-around. Restoration of the 450-foot long McFee Tunnel was completed in summer 2017.
The Spruce Railroad Trail follows the historic railroad grade of the Spruce Railroad, built in 1918 to harvest and transport aircraft-quality spruce for biplanes in World War I. The railroad was almost complete in the fall of 1918, but the end of World War I that November meant the end of the operation and no Sitka spruce were ever processed at the local mills for biplanes. The railroad was purchased from the government and utilized as a common-carrier line and logging railroad after the war until it was abandoned in 1951.
Today, the railroad grade is part of Olympic National Park and the Spruce Railroad Trail is a piece of the planned 135-mile long Olympic Discovery Trail which will eventually connect Port Townsend to La Push—Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.
Travel Alert: Due to the closure of East Beach Road at Highway 101, access to the Lyre River Trailhead on the eastern end of the Spruce Railroad Trail is currently via Highway 112 to Joyce-Piedmont Rd. East Beach Road remains closed for public safety due to debris hazards following the wildland fire on the steep slope above the road this summer.
For current trail, road, and travel information, visitors should consult the park website at www.nps.gov/olym or call the recorded Road and Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131.