North Shore, Belfair-Tahuya closures getting same priorityAugust 22nd, 2008 by travis baker
The in basket: John Whalen of the North Shore Road in Mason County writes, “Why is priority given to the repair of the North Shore Road and not the repair of the Tahuya River Bridge on the Belfair-Tahuya Road? I am certain a traffic study would show that the Tahuya River Bridge gets a substantially higher number of vehicles on it than the North Shore Road (at the closure site). I feel that priority should be given to the Tahuya River Bridge and all the residents of Collins Lake, Haven Lake, Wooten Lake, Tee Lake, Maggie Lake, Dewatto and Tahuya.
The out basket: Bill Tabor, the Mason County engineer, who will be retiring at the end of the month, says the two projects are being given equal priority.
The recent closure of North Shore Road wasn’t done so that it can be worked on first, though permit issues may bring about that result, Bill said.
The North Shore repair, which will require a tall wall to retain the roadway, is awaiting approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.
No work is going on now to repair the Dec. 3 washout. The closure, he said, was prompted by widespread disregard for the county’s efforts to get drivers to voluntarily use other roads to keep more of North Shore Road from dropping away.
“When we first closed it, it was a one-lane road and we hoped to maintain that. Then we started getting logging trucks through there, so we restricted that and no one paid any attention. It made the situation worse to the point I felt there were some real safety concerns, not only to traffic but to people living below.”
Even closing it wasn’t fully effective. They used a chain across the road in addition to the upright barricades with ‘Road Closed” on them, Bill said. Two days later, someone cut the cable and moved the barricades, presumably to get through, he said.
He called it “a total disregard for the safety issues involved in that site.”
They hope to get the FEMA approval (so federal money can be used) in time to get the repair made before the winter rains, he said.
It will take six weeks or so to bid the project and select a contractor once the approval is obtained, he said. Design of the wall by a consultant is 90 percent complete.
Meanwhile, the county has a different set of problems at the temporary bridge across Tahuya River. That’s the subject of the next Road Warrior.