Early days on Lake Crescent …no guardrails!!

Early days on Lake Crescent …no guardrails!!

Aesthetics over accidents?

During the Lake Crescent road construction, many shared with the Forks Forum their hope that the lighter area at the base of the posts, on the new guardrail, would be left to help with visibility for drivers on dark rainy nights. That message was forwarded to Olympic National Park, but the posts were eventually painted dark.

West End resident Diane Edwards recently wrote the following letter to Olympic National Park regarding the guardrails and safety concerns when driving around Lake Crescent:

I would like to once again request that the NPS repaint the guardrail posts with reflective paint to provide better visibility at night and in inclement weather.

I don’t understand what the reasoning would have been to paint over the reflective paint this fall but it was very helping on dark nights—and now especially so with rain and inclement weather on dark nights and early morning… that will almost guarantee fewer accidents on a treacherous road.

Thank you for sending my request on to others who may consider this of importance.

Diane Edwards

ONP’s response to


Dear Ms. Edwards,

Thank you for your comments on the recently completed Highway 101 road project along Lake Crescent within Olympic National Park.

The National Park Service has a partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to provide design and construction assistance for major road rehabilitation work. FHWA performed the design and construction oversight for the Highway 101 project. We consulted with FHWA safety engineers regarding your specific inquiry concerning the guardrail post bases and would like to take this opportunity to provide you with that information.

Guardrails are installed to protect against driving off the road and are not used, from a safety or regulatory perspective, as a visual guide. The purpose of guardrail is to lessen the severity of an accident by preventing a vehicle from veering off the roadway into an embankment or stationary object.

To explain what happened with the guardrail posts, the bases of the guardrail posts were not painted with reflective paint. Rather, the galvanized portion of the post base was exposed. The brown coating, or “corten”, for the above-grade portion was not extended down far enough and required field painting to match. Galvanized finishes quickly dull, so that shiny effect would likely have faded soon. In addition, lack of uniformity in post coloration can be distracting and dangerous to drivers.

The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which provides regulatory guidance for road design, requires road delineation in the form of striping and markers on the actual road surface. As you’re aware, the completed road segment has both fog line and centerline marking as well as recessed centerline reflectors, many of which were missing prior to the rehabilitation project. Reflector tabs on the guardrails have also been installed and are intended to indicate guardrail location for drivers, rather than road location. Additionally, the project included replacement of signage to meet current reflectivity standards, to improve readability and visibility.

Again, thank you for sharing your feedback.


Lisa Turecek, PE

Chief, Facility Management

Olympic National Park

Maybe it is just me but the response sounds like it is “how it looks” over safety? With the recently painted stripes that seem to be fading and many missing reflectors, it seems the guardrail being more visible would be helpful. But, I know I don’t want to be distracted by something light-colored that might keep me in my lane on a dark and stormy night!

Christi Baron