The National Park Service is beginning the work on the enviornmental assessment for the $32.7 million improvement of the highway from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise, see TNT story. When the report is finished in draft form for public review and comment, the NPS will put it on the NPS park plannng Website.
The NPS wants to improve the entire length of the 17.6 mile highway along with the Ricksecker loop road, the Paradise Valley road and the Narda Falls parking area. The initial report is expected to be ready by late spring of 2010 when it will go through the internal and public review process before finalization and requests for appropriattions for the work to begin in 2012.
The improvements on the highway are necessary in many areas, where the road is settling, at the Kautz Creek bridge and new bridge for the new creek channel east of the old channel and bridge, along the areas current restranted by the terrain along the slopes with the orignal stone walls, and other areas along the whole length of highway. It's safe to say it's long overdue. The highway is ok, but it's had problems where it's time to upgrade and improve it.
This is especially true with the Kautz Creek channels and bridge. The November 2006 floods created two problems with Kautz Creek. One, the channel above and through the section with the bridge filled in where there is little channel capacity left. Two, several miles upstream the creek diverted through a new channel created throught the forest east of the old channel. There the channle simply went over the road until the NPS could build culverts underneath for much of the flow but not flood flows.
When I find new information, I will post it here with links.