Friday, November 18, 2011

Risk of rocks in the roadway reduced on US 12 west of White Pass

By guest blogger Mike Westbay

Drivers who have experienced close calls or collisions with rocks on the roadway know how frightening and damaging they can be.

Two crew members from Janod Inc. work to stabilize the slope above
US 12 west of White Pass. (photo courtesy of Echo Entertainment)
To reduce the risk of these types of collisions happening on US 12 near White Pass, we worked all summer with the brave slope stabilization crews from Janod Inc. of Dorian, Quebec, Canada.

Janod’s crews, hanging from the hillside on ropes, kicked down loose rocks that threatened to fall to the highway. After removing debris (dirt, trees, shrubs and rocks) from several sections of unstable slopes, crews blasted boulders, drilled holes, hauled away about 38,000 tons of rocks and placed protective nets on the steep slopes above US 12, five miles west of White Pass.

A total of 900 pounds of explosives were used to blast apart the largest rocks that posed a risk to drivers.

After the dust settled and the blast debris was removed, a combination of 52 bolts and dowels were installed to hold the rocks together and to keep them from sliding toward the highway.

The final stabilizing work was anchoring the net/fence onto the slopes to contain the rocks that are likely to come loose and fall into the roadside ditch due to erosion.

The $4 million project (including design and construction) was completed within budget and a season ahead of schedule.

Janod Inc.’s crew will be featured in a National Geographic Channel series called “Rock Stars”. The first episode airs at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

WSDOT prioritizes the treatment of unstable rock or soil slopes on a statewide basis, using an engineering analysis to compare the cost to the potential benefit.   This year’s $4 million project is one of a series of unstable slope projects on a 25-mile corridor on US 12 near White Pass. Work in the corridor started in 2006 and is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

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