Sunday, November 25, 2012

Alternative Reality

Let's pretend for a minute that instead of :

"Three members of the park’s nine-person road crew will change their duty schedules this week and work full-time on maintaining weekend access to Hurricane Ridge.
Of the remaining six crew members, one is a mechanic, charged with servicing and maintaining the park’s fleet of trucks and heavy equipment and three are tasked with keeping roads cleared and maintained along the park’s northern and eastern edges including Sol Duc, Lake Crescent, Elwha and Staircase. The remaining two road crew members are stationed in Quinault to keep the Quinault, Queets and Hoh Rain Forest roads clear and passable."
Lets imagine if they went with a program that the three guys for Hurricane Ridge plus the three guys for the northeast all worked together to do whatever was needed each day.  Keep in mind that Crater Lake keeps 30 miles of high elevation road open 24/7 with six guys. Mount Baker has seven guys for 24/7 coverage plus an smilar amount of low elevation work as ONP, and does it for about half the cost.  In Utah a six man crew keeps the Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon roads open as well as a stretch of Interstate 215.  That would be the equivalant of Sol Duc and Hurricane with Highway 101 in between as well.
This week, the three Hurricane Ridge guys supposedly worked all day on Friday to clear the 6-8 foot drifts that had built up during the week.  The road was closed all day Friday.  On Saturday, they sanded the road, finished what they didn't do on Friday and at any rate were done and headed back to headquarters by about 9:30.  On Sunday, there was no new precipitation, and the road opened at 7:15.  Maximum one guy in the sand truck.  Going into this week, there is no snow forecast until Thursday so the crew of six could then work on the other projects in the northeast portion of the park.

Some precise weather forecasting such as is available to the WSDOT from would make it even more efficient.
This is a very typical scenario that would allow the HR road to open every day and whatever else the other three guys do also get done. 
Imagining the worst case scenario of a major windstorm that fells multiple trees across the other roads: 
At Lake Crescent Highway 101 is maintained by WSDOT and East Beach Road by the County.  Sol Duc Road has been closed in the winter, and the GMP says it will be open seasonally. 
The Olympic Hot Springs Road has been closed the last two years for dam removal, and regardless always closes when it is snow covered.  For the last two years the Whiskey Bend Road was closed due to a major washout fixed by an outside contractor, then a minor culvert replacement also fixed by an outside contractor. 
Staircase has been closed the past five years during the winter since the big hump fire.

So there doesn't seem to be any urgency in keeping those areas open. At the very worst, close the Hurricane Ridge Road a couple days during the week to get caught up.  It would be better than closing it all the time as is the case now.

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