Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Washington State Route 109

On Sunday and Monday, September 5-6, 2010, I drove the length of Washington State Route 109, from Hoquiam to Taholah and back again -- or at least the portion that's constructed. Sun, rain, and fun fun fun.

RCW 47.17.200
State route No. 109
A state highway to be known as state route number 109 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 101 in Hoquiam, thence northwesterly by way of Ocean City, Copalis, Pacific Beach, and Moclips to a junction with state route number 101 in the vicinity of Queets; also a bypass beginning at a junction with state route number 101 in the vicinity of the north city limits of Hoquiam, thence southerly to a junction with state route number 109 in the vicinity of the west city limits of Hoquiam.

SR 109 @ US 101
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, our drive begins on the west bank of the Hoquiam River. Note the construction/detour signs. The southbound bridge for US 101 is currently closed due to deterioration of the underwater piers, so the normally northbound bridge over the Hoquiam River is serving double duty, with one lane each direction. For us, traffic wasn't bad at all, but then again, it was a Sunday afternoon.

SR 109 @ SR 109 Spur
At the west end of town, SR 109 has a junction with itself: SR 109 Spur, the bypass of Hoquiam for all the hordes of traffic between Ocean Shores and points north that don't want to take the much shorter county-road routes. Naturally, WSDOT signs the spur as if were US 101.

SR 109 @ SR 115
After winding around the North Bay of Grays Harbor, we arrive at the turn-off to Ocean Shores: SR 115. Highway 109 turns north along the coast here.

SR 109 @ Taholah
With glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and the bright sun through the trees, we pass through all the small resort towns of Ocean City, Copalis Beach, Pacific Beach, and Moclips. The stretch between Copalis and Pacific Beach is wonderfully curvy and also home to a nice beach hike from Roosevelt Beach south to Copalis Rock and Copalis Airport, which is nothing more than a wide strip of hard-packed sand with a windsock. After Moclips, SR 109 enters the Quinault Indian Reservation and there are no more resorts. Tourists are not welcome. At Taholah, the seat of Quinault tribal government, the state highway ends at the near end of a bridge over the wide and scenic Quinault River.

State Route 109 is supposed to continue up the coast to reconnect to US 101 near Queets and the south end of the coastal portion of Olympic National Park. This would be a prime route for tourists in the area, but for some reason, the tribe blocked the road from being finished. As I said, tourists are not welcome. Taholah itself would be a great location for a resort casino on the beach, at the mouth of the river. So much for visitors to do! So many tourist dollars to reap! Instead, Taholah has a poverty rate three times higher than nearby Moclips. There has been a real failure of leadership in the Quinault tribe. Depressing, really.

SR 109 Spur @ US 101
The next day, the rain arrived. We returned to Hoquiam for the short bypass, SR 109 Spur. Beginning at US 101, southwestward we head.

SR 109 Spur @ SR 109
A couple miles of empty road with nary a building in sight, the bypass ends at its parent route, SR 109.

Only now is our drive of Highway 109 complete. Enough has been said.

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