From Mount Rainier National Park:
Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga and Federal Highway Administration, Western Federal Lands Highway Division officials announce that the planned rehabilitation of Stevens Canyon Road is tentatively scheduled to begin in early September, 2011 and be completed by late September, 2013.
Federal Highway Administration, Western Federal Lands Highway Division officials will be announcing a pre-solicitation site visit for prospective bidders in early May, 2011. The contract will likely be awarded by August,
2011 with the project starting immediately following the Labor Day holiday on September 6, 2011.
The National Park Service prepared an Environmental Assessment and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which was approved by the Pacific West Regional Director on July 1, 2010. The FONSI calls for the resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation of the Stevens Canyon Road and other related facilities, including 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. Segment 1 begins at the Nisqually-Paradise Road intersection and extends east for 4.83 miles to the Stevens Creek Bridge. Segment 4 begins at the Backbone Ridge Viaduct (just east of the Backbone Ridge Viewpoint) and continues for 5.26 miles to the intersection with Washington State Route (SR) 123.
Ten sites in Segment 1 and 35 sites in Segment 4 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 of the 10 sites in Segment 1 require full roadway embankment replacement down to 22 foot depth and retaining/guard wall replacements. Most of the 35 sites in Segment 4 require either ¾- width or full road embankment replacement down to 5 foot depth, some of which require retaining/guard wall replacements.
Due to the scope of the extensive roadway embankment stabilization efforts, it will be necessary to close the east end (Segment 4) of Stevens Canyon Road from the gate located just west of the Grove of the Patriarchs (see attached map) to just east of the popular Backbone Ridge Viewpoint from September 6, 2011 to when the road is shut down for the winter (October 24 th in 2010). The contractor will also be doing subsurface compaction grouting in both road segments to stabilize the roadway in 2011. Visitors will be able to access the Reflection Lakes area, Box Canyon and Backbone Ridge Viewpoint area and adjacent trailheads from the west during the 2011closure period.
During the 2012 season, the subsurface stabilization work on the west end (Segment 1) will require a closure from just east of the Paradise Valley Road to the Box Canyon Area immediately following Labor Day to when the road is shut down for the winter. The contractor will also be repairing the tunnel walls at milepost 6.9 and 8.5 during the closure period. During this period, visitors will be able to access up to the Box Canyon area from the east. From approximately June 2012 to just before Labor Day 2012 the contractor will be conducting work in both segments, at which time visitors should anticipate 20 minute delays Mondays through Fridays.
During the 2013 season, 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 which will be accomplished while the roadway is open to the public. At this time visitors should again anticipate 20 minute delays Mondays through Fridays until project completion estimated in September, 2013.
Stevens Canyon Road connects the east and west side 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
2011 & 2012 closure periods, 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 have two detour options: Via Gifford Pinchot National Forest Service Road 52 (Skate Creek Road) beginning on US 12 in Packwood and ending on SR 706 east of Ashford; or the longer route via SR 7 beginning in Morton on US 12 and ending on SR 706 at Elbe (see attached map).
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.