Traffic will be slow through Stevens Canyon in Mount Rainier National Park this summer as road construction gets under way along 10 miles of the road.
A $9 million contract for the work was awarded to Tucci and Sons, Inc. of Tacoma, Washington, which was given the OK to start work on May 29. The work is to be finished by September 17, 2013.
Under the contract, 10 miles of the road will be resurfaced, with restoration and rehabilitation of sections performed as needed. Also included in the work will be any necessary repairs to bridges, tunnels, culverts, guard walls, retaining walls, turnouts and the short Wonderland Trail section adjacent to Reflection Lake. The improvements will occur along two segments of the road, totaling 10.09 miles of the 19-mile road.
Starting in early June until September 4, visitors should anticipate 20-minute delays, Monday – Friday, through each of two segments of roadwork on Stevens Canyon Road.
From September 4 until winter closure, Stevens Canyon Road will be closed to through traffic (for both vehicles and bicycles) from just east of the intersection with the Paradise Valley Road to the east end of the tunnel at Box Canyon.
Visitors will be able to access Backbone Ridge, Box Canyon, and adjacent trailheads via the East Entrance near State Route 123 during the 2012 closure. Wonderland Trail hikers as well as day hikers will be permitted to hike through the construction zone to access adjacent trails.
Forty-five sites along the road have been identified as needing subsurface stabilization to halt roadway embankment creep that has resulted in surface tension cracks and appreciable horizontal and vertical displacement. Two sites require full roadway embankment replacement down to 22 foot depth and retaining/guard wall replacements.
Most of the sites require either ¾- width or full road embankment replacement down to 5-foot-depth. Some sections that were stabilized during Phase 1 last year will require retaining/guard wall replacements. The contractor will also be repairing the tunnel walls at milepost 6.9 and 8.5 during the closure period.
Stevens Canyon roadwork is scheduled to extend until mid September 2013, although no closures are anticipated during the 2013 season.
During next year's work, the contractor will focus on drainage improvements, repair/stabilization and reconstruction of historic rock retaining walls, milling/recycling the asphalt surface as road base; and resurfacing with new hot-mix asphalt that will be accomplished while the roadway is open to the public. At this time visitors should again anticipate maximum 20-minute delays through each segment Mondays through Fridays until project completion on September 17, 2013.
Stevens Canyon Road connects the east and west sides of the park, extending for 19 miles from SR 123 at the east end to intersection with the Nisqually to Paradise Road at the west end, two miles south of Paradise. During the 2012 closure period, visitors are encouraged to access the Paradise area from the southwest via the Nisqually Entrance at east end of SR 706.
Visitors traveling from the east via SR 410, SR 123, and/or US 12 who wish to visit the Paradise area are encouraged to seek alternate routes. From US 12 in Morton you can turn north on SR 7 to Elbe, then east on SR 706 to Nisqually entrance. The paved and shorter Skate Creek Road (USFS #52) between Packwood and Ashford will have 30-minute bridge construction delays starting in July.
While the construction and associated closures and traffic delays present an inconvenience, the rehabilitation work will not only improve the driving surface of the roadway, but ensure its longevity.
Updated information on this project may be obtained by calling Mount Rainier National Park at 360-569-2166. Information on this project, as well as general park information, is also available on Mount Rainier National Park’s website. Another option would be to follow updates on Twitter via MountRainierNPS.