Existing 97-year-old bridge will remain open during the project
PORT ANGELES – The mighty Elwha River will soon have a new bridge spanning its banks. Work began Monday, April 17, on a brand new bridge, which will carry US 101 across the river and keep communities connected.
The new replacement bridge will be built near the existing 97-year-old span and, in addition to a number of travel improvements, will ensure the US 101 route continues to be a reliable transportation facility for decades to come.
New bridge specifics
The new bridge will be 502 feet long and 40 feet wide. It will accommodate two 12-foot lanes with two 8-foot shoulders. The current bridge is 28 feet wide. A wider bridge will create a more comfortable crossing for travelers and provide shoulder room for bicyclists and pedestrians. When complete, travelers will also find US 101/Olympic Hot Springs Road has a gentler curve approaching the bridge.
Travel over the existing bridge and roadway will not be affected during most of the construction work for the new span. However, towards the end of construction – likely in late 2024 – US 101 will close for 9 days. The around-the-clock closure will allow crews to complete building the roadway approaching the new bridge. During the closure, travelers will detour using State Route 112 and SR 113.
About the Elwha River Bridge
Built in 1926, the 450-foot concrete arch bridge has served the community for nearly 100 years. Over the past several years, the Elwha River has dramatically changed its course and flow, leading to significant erosion around the bridge foundations. The riverbed around the bridge’s piers has lowered approximately 14 feet.
The situation requires WSDOT to regularly monitor the span during flooding. As recently as November 2021, the existing span had to be temporarily closed while the bridge was inspected. Once the new bridge construction is complete, crews will demolish the older span.