Clallam County inks $720,000 deal with Federal Highway Administration for piece of Spruce Railroad Trail, restoration of McFee Tunnel
PORT ANGELES — Clallam County has moved another step closer to restoring the historic McFee Tunnel at Lake Crescent — and paving a way to get to it.
County commissioners Tuesday approved a $720,000 agreement with the Federal Highway Administration for the construction of a half-mile segment of the Spruce Railroad Trail and restoration of a 450-foot-long railroad tunnel that was built in 1918 on the north shore of the lake.
Half covered by grant
More than half of the cost is covered by a $460,000 grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
“Nice to see this moving ahead,” Commissioner Jim McEntire said Tuesday.
Clallam County is working in partnership with Olympic National Park to pave and widen the 3.5-mile Spruce Railroad Trail to a total of 11 feet.
The eastern end of the trail has been closed for several months for construction of a segment near the Lyre River trailhead.
Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said the trail would be open by Friday.
“This is a project I really support because we've got collaboration with the park,” Commissioner Bill Peach said.
Once completed in 2018 or 2019, the wheelchair-accessible Spruce Railroad Trail will become part of the Olympic Discovery Trail system.
The ODT is a non-motorized attraction that will eventually connect Port Townsend to LaPush.
A widened 0.6-mile section of the Spruce Railroad Trail was recently completed from the Lyre River trailhead down to the historic railroad grade on the shore of the lake.
For now, the surface is being left as packed gravel to avoid damage to the paved surface as future segments are built, county Transportation Program Manager Rich James said Wednesday.
The gravel surface is suitable for fat tire bikes.
No liner needed
Several consultants have examined the McFee Tunnel and determined that no liner will be needed, County Engineer Ross Tyler told commissioners in a Monday work session.
Portals at the ends of the tunnel will be beefed up for safety, and certain rocks inside the tunnel might be bolted for security, Tyler said.
“It turns out that it's really quite stable,” he said.
The half-mile segment leading to the McFee Tunnel — and the tunnel restoration itself — earned the top score in a recent Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant competition.
Commissioner Mike Chapman thanked Tyler and specifically James for “a lot of hard work over the years to get to this point.”
Chapman also credited former Commissioner Mike Doherty, who “worked tirelessly” with Olympic National Park through several administrations on “some complicated issues to get to this point.”
“When people are walking through those tunnels in the future, I think we probably should hang a plaque in there with Commissioner Doherty's name on it or something, because nobody's spent more time on this than he did,” Chapman said at the business meeting.
“Thanks should be entered into the record for the hard work.”