Work on road to Paradise to begin Monday

Staff reportMarch 2, 2014 

A four-year work project is scheduled to begin Monday on the 17.6 miles of road leading to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. Among the early work will be the staging of equipment and materials.

Park officials are warning visitors to allow themselves an extra hour round-trip when making the drive on weekdays through early fall.

“We’re going to try to keep delays to 20 minutes maximum,” superintendent Randy King said. That would be similar in length to delays during recent work along Stevens Canyon Road.

The work will completed in two phases, each taking as many as two years because of the fairly short construction season at the mountain. The project will address deteriorating road conditions resulting from precipitation, structural deficiencies, excessive traffic and normal use.

The first phase includes the installation of in-road buried conduits and junction vaults, as well as improvements to the road’s substructure and drainage between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire. Work this year also will include paving and substructure work on Ricksecker Point Loop Road and Paradise Valley Road.

Tucci and Sons of Tacoma was awarded a $10 million contract for the first phase, King said.

Phase 2 is expected to begin in 2016 at Longmire and end at Paradise in 2017.

While the work will slow travel on the park’s busiest road, “Don’t stay away from the park because of that,” King said.

FISHING RULE PROPOSALS

Olympic National Park has proposed making minor changes to recreational fishing regulations within the park.

The proposed changes are available online at parkplanning.nps.gov/onpfishingregs2014-15. The public can comment or provide information that might not have been considered in developing the proposals.

The proposals would apply to the mouths of the Dickey, Hoh and Quillayute rivers, according to a park news release. The proposed changes would clarify and simplify park regulations near the river mouths, improve consistency of the park’s wild fish retention regulations, and eliminate the need for annual changes to gear and hatchery limits since they would conform to state regulations for those areas.

In the proposed changes, annual park gear regulations and daily limits for hatchery salmon and steelhead would be identical to state regulations for areas immediately upstream of the park boundary in each of the rivers. Annual park regulations would require the catch-and-release of cutthroat trout and wild coho and chinook in the Pacific coastal areas.

Park fishing regulations take effect May 1 and will be available at nps.gov/olym/fishing.htm, park visitor centers and local sporting goods stores. To be considered in the final decision process, comments must be received by March 24.

January visitation

Mount Rainier

January 2014: 23,824

January 2013: 21,735

Difference: 9.61 percent

Year to date 2014: 23,824

Year to date 2013: 21,735

Difference: 9.61 percent

Good winter weather, the opening of the snowplay area and seven-day-a-week access helped the park have its best January visitor count in five years. The last time the count was higher was January 2010, when it was 25,416.

Olympic

January 2014: 73,924

January 2013: 77,162

Difference: -4.2 percent

Year to date 2014: 73,924

Year to date 2013: 77,162

Difference: -4.2 percent

Weather closures of the Hurricane Ridge Road as well as a water leak that forced the closure of the Heart O’ Hills Campground helped keep January’s visitor count below the count for the same month in 2013.

National Park Service

January 2014: 10,483,579

January 2013: 11,535,625

Difference: -9.12 percent

Year to date 2014: 10,483,579

Year to date 2013: 11,535,625

Difference: -9.12 percent

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