US 101 - Elwha River Bridge - Bridge Replacement

Project news

Why is WSDOT rebuilding the US 101 Elwha River Bridge?

Built in 1926, the 3-span, 388-foot concrete arch bridge has served the community for more than 90 years. Over the last several years, the Elwha River has dramatically changed its course and flow, leading to significant erosion around the bridge foundations.  As a result, WSDOT estimates the riverbed around the bridge’s piers has lowered 14 feet.

View historical photos (pdf 731 kb)

The lowered riverbed revealed the piers’ seals, prompting WSDOT to do borings to verify the depth of the foundations. The borings, done in October 2016, revealed 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 almost 5,000 tons of riprap (large boulders) around both piers to help prevent further erosion. Additional bridge monitoring using tilt meters, crack meters, water flow meters, surveys and visual observations are also underway.

WSDOT is moving forward through a series of complex environmental reviews and approvals. WSDOT remains committed in continuing to work with local and regulatory partners in this project including Federal Highway Administration, Department of Interior, Olympic National Park, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Department of Ecology, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Corps of Engineers and area jurisdictions. Moving forward requires concurrence between all parties involved through a Memorandum of Agreement.

The End Result

The new Elwha River Bridge will be 40 feet wide and accommodate two 12-foot lanes with two-8 foot shoulders (the current bridge is 28 feet wide). The wider bridge will create a more comfortable crossing for travelers and provide adequate shoulder room for bicyclists and pedestrians. Additionally, the new alignment with US 101/Olympic Hot Springs Road will have a more gentle curvature, with a higher design speed (40 mph) at the east end of the bridge.

Needs & benefits

The US 101 Elwha River Bridge is vital to the well-being of the communities on the Olympic Peninsula. Replacing the bridge will ensure that the US 101 route continues to be a reliable transportation facility for decades to come.

Additional project benefits include:

  • transit stops on both the west and east ends of the bridge, locations of which were coordinated with Clallam Transit;
  • relocating the intersection further east to provide better sight lines and intersection geometrics;
  • installing illumination at the intersection (no illumination is there presently);
  • building turn pockets on US 101 to Olympic Hot Springs Road;
  • building a short acceleration lane on northbound US 101 from Olympic Hot Springs Road;
  • restore the parking access that was there before with a gravel parking lot


  • Ongoing NEPA process through Summer 2021
  • Spring 2022 anticipated construction begins
  • Fall 2023 traffic shifts onto new bridge


Financial Data for PIN 310135F
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $35,314
CWA $252
Total $35,566


Dan McKernan
WSDOT Project Engineer 

Tina Werner
WSDOT Media Relations

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

Map of the current Elwha River Bridge