The new State Route 7 Elbe Safety Rest Area

We've received a few inquiries about the SR 7 Safety Rest Area Project and wanted to provide you with more information about why the project cost what it did.

The $3.2 million project cost (not $4.2 million as reported incorrectly by some media) was higher than we would have liked. However, this project highlights the challenges of meeting an important safety and service need for hundreds of thousands of tourists who travel through Elbe, a community of 29 (according to the 2010 Census).

In a rural location, finding a location that met certain factors was not easy. Crews had to work to find a potential location and land that:

  • Met engineering and environmental standards
  • Satisfied grant conditions 
  • Included line of sight when entering/exiting SR 7
  • Required that visitors not have to cross rail lines 
  • Was available for sale
Beginning with initial site selection in 1998, we identified and evaluated several sites, both private and public lands. Each evaluation had costs, including site analysis and tests, preliminary engineering and so on. We continued to discover reasons that the sites, for one reason or another, would not work – and all of this added to the cost.

After 14 years of development and working through these challenges – we agree it’s been long and difficult – we are pleased we now have a facility open and operating and ready to service thousands of travelers who pass through Elbe each year on their way to Mount Rainier National Park.

Below, you can find a breakdown of the costs to adapt a two-story, 3,000-square-foot former Civilian Conservation Corps bunkhouse and garage that date to the 1930s. The structure fits within the rural landscape but is maintained to modern standards. While not what you may find along I-5, it’s far from what some have called an “outhouse.”

This project was funded with $1.913 million in federal funds, $748,000 in state funds, and $543,000 in Federal Scenic Byway Grant Funds for a total project cost of approximately $3.2 million. Our construction project budget was $1.44 million.

Here is our  project description and a breakdown of the costs:
  • Total award to contractor Pease and Sons: $1,101,689. The contractor’s cost breakout includes:
    • Rehabilitation of historic building with two urinals and five vault toilets: $749,085
    • Site lighting, pavement, grading, storm-water drain system, striping, walkways, and gates: $255,390
    • Landscaping: $17,500
    • Subtotal: $1,021,975
    • Tax (7.8%): $79,714
  • Our construction budget includes approximately $338,370 for construction engineering/inspections, risk contingencies, and project administration (for a total project construction cost of $1.44 million).
  • The right-of-way and acquisition was $271,000. This location was not a state property. 
  • The cost for this site selection and preliminary engineering was $1.493 million. This process, which began in 1998, included identifying and evaluating multiple sites, both private and public lands. In a remote location, finding that location was not an easy task.
So in the end, it was a 14 year process that brings much relief to travelers headed to Mount Rainier.