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US 101 Elwha River Bridge

US 101 Elwha River Bridge

  • Toll Free Information Hotline: 1-888-633-4005.
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Bridge Status: The US 101 Elwha River Bridge is open to traffic with no restrictions.

Why is WSDOT focused on the US 101 Elwha River Bridge?

Built in 1926, the 3-span, 388-foot concrete arch bridge has served the community over 90 years. Over the last couple of years, the Elwha River has dramatically changed its course and flow, leading to significant erosion around the bridge foundations.

WSDOT is monitoring the bridge closely using a variety of tools. Motorists can assume that if the bridge is open to traffic, it is safe to use. If the condition of the bridge begins to change, WSDOT could implement restrictions ranging from weight restrictions or lowered speed limits, to single-lane closures, to a total bridge closure.

Preventive measures
Riprap being installedThe increased water flow resulting from two dams being removed from the river have caused much material to wash downstream. Since 2012, the riverbed at the bridge has lowered 14 feet.

The lowered riverbed revealed the piers' seals, promoting WSDOT to do borings to verify the depth of the foundations. The borings, done in October 2016, revealed that the foundations are on gravel, not bedrock. This finding was in contrast to what the original 1926 engineering plans showed. As a result, WSDOT immediately installed over 3,300 tons of riprap (large boulders) around both piers to help prevent further erosion. Additional monitoring using tilt meters, crack meters, water flow meters, surveys and visual observations are also taking place.

The End Result
WSDOT is exploring several options to keep traffic moving around the Olympic Peninsula. We believe that a reliable US 101 crossing over the Elwha River is vital to the well-being of the communities on the Olympic Peninsula. To that end, we have removed Alternatives 1, 2, and 3 (options that did not include a bridge) from further consideration because they do not meet that need. Additionally, we have removed Alternative 4 (retrofitting the existing bridge) as a long-term solution due to the 90-year-old age of the structure.  

We are still evaluating the three remaining options that include building a new bridge using three different approaches. We do not have a firm timeline for a decision, but are moving forward aggressively.  

We encourage you to review the alternatives and send your thoughts about them to WSDOT. You can also view alternatives suggested by members of the public on the Public Route Suggestions page.

Stay informed
Sign up for US 101 Elwha River Bridge alerts via email by doing the following:

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Toll Free Information Hotline
Information about bridge status is available by calling 1-888-633-4005. Please note this number does not accept messages.