By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The state Department of Transportation in November awarded a $27.07 million bid to Scarsella Bros. Inc. of Kent to widen the thoroughfare to four lanes on the 3.5-mile segment between Kitchen-Dick and Shore roads.
Crews broke ground Monday.
No ribbon-cutting ceremony or other public event marked the beginning of the two-year project, said Project Engineer Jerry Moore, who added that motorists will hardly notice the workers as they prepare to build a new bridge over McDonald Creek, the first major goal in the project.
Excavation for the new lanes of travel will begin in earnest in April, Moore has said.
Scarsella Bros., which also built the Sequim bypass in 1999, submitted the lowest of nine bids that the state opened Nov. 7.
No local companies were among the finalists.
Once the project is completed in late 2014, motorists will have two lanes of travel in both directions between Port Angeles and Sequim.
Eastbound and westbound traffic will be separated by a 32-foot median to reduce the chances of head-on wrecks.
Left-hand turns onto the highway from county roads will no long be permitted.
Motorists instead will have to use one of six new U-turns to achieve their intended direction.
The highway widening project was prioritized by the state in a 1993 environmental impact statement.
Since the construction bid came in $6.92 million under the engineers' estimate, the entire project cost, including right-of-way acquisition and design, was reduced from $67 million to $60 million.
After the new bridge over McDonald Creek is finished later this year, the state will move traffic onto the new bridge, tear down the existing bridge, and build a second modern bridge in its place.
The existing two-lane highway will be regraded to accommodate one direction of travel.
The construction bid includes a $500,000 side project to build a 130-foot-long pedestrian underpass near Kitchen-Dick Road to enable Clallam Transit passengers to get across the highway through a new box culvert on East Owl Creek.
The public transportation agency funded the foot-crossing with state and federal grants.
Several Clallam County roads that connect to U.S. Highway within the construction zone will be raised or lowered to meet the new highway grade.
The widening of Highway 101 is scheduled to wrap up in October 2014.
The state project will overlap with Clallam County's $9.2 million new underpass of U.S. Highway 101 at Old Deer Park Road northwest of Deer Park Cinema.
A new county road and 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path will be built under the existing highway grade northwest of the Deer Park Cinema to eliminate left-hand turns from Deer Park Road and Buchanan Drive.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.