Work is scheduled to begin next week to install 12 miles of fiber optic cable along the Hurricane Ridge Road at Olympic National Park. To do so, the road will be closed overnight most weekdays through June 5.
The cable will run through one of several conduits installed during the 2008 Hurricane Ridge Road repaving project. Park officials say the fiber optic cable will radically improve phone and digital communications from Hurricane Ridge, will improve the park’s two-way radio system, and will reduce the park’s yearly utility costs by nearly $19,000.
To accommodate the three-week project, the Hurricane Ridge Road will be closed overnight and through the early morning hours of most weekdays from May 19 through June 5. The road will be open daily from 10 a.m. to sunset and will remain fully open on weekends and Memorial Day, May 26.
Crews will be working from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily; drivers should use caution and be alert for flaggers and workers along the road between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. This project is timed to coincide with the park’s annual spring cleaning of the ditches and culverts along the Hurricane Ridge Road. No work will be performed overnight, but the road will be closed as there won't be any flaggers during those dark hours to help motorists safely navigate the construction area.
“We appreciate our visitors’ and communities’ patience as we finish these two very important projects,” said Olympic Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “We understand that it creates an inconvenience, but we are very pleased that our staff was able to find safe and creative ways to minimize road closures and delays.”
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, including exhibits, restrooms, a snack bar and gift shop, will be open daily throughout the work period, although some services may be limited on weekdays due to reduced electrical power. Full services will be offered on weekends and the Memorial Day holiday.
Currently, phone and minimal data connections to Hurricane Ridge are provided through a microwave system which, by today’s standards, is slow, unreliable, and has limited capacity. The fiber optic cable will not only provide lower-cost communications, but will also supply reliable phone service to Hurricane Ridge and greatly increase bandwidth, allowing both park and concessioner staff to take advantage of a wide range of technological advances.
For years, park communications, webcam images, and weather data have been restricted by the limited capacity of the microwave system. The new fiber optic cable will replace the microwave system that cost the park approximately $12,000 per year in lease fees. The new cable will also allow relocation of a key component of the park’s two-way radio system from a leased site outside the park to Hurricane Ridge, saving another $6,600 annually.
The Hurricane Ridge Road leads 17 miles from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge, providing access to stunning mountain scenery and Olympic’s subalpine environment.