Monday, March 24, 2014

SR 530 closed indefinitely after Snohomish County landslide

After the tragic landslide along SR 530 in the town of Oso on Saturday morning, search and rescue operations are underway for many unaccounted people in Snohomish County. SR 530 between Whitman Road (milepost 36) and 310th Street Northeast (milepost 39) is closed indefinitely. It’s likely a long-term closure.

A hillside gave way about five miles east of Oso, and north of SR 530 across the north fork of the Stillaguamish River. The affected area is about a mile wide and estimated to be up to 35 feet deep in places. The headscarp, the location on the hill where the slide began, is about 1,500 feet wide and 600 feet tall.

We are working closely with Snohomish County, Washington State Patrol and a number of other state and local partners in the emergency response.

Right now, it’s not safe for crews to go into the slide area. Silt is still moving from hillside, which is potentially hazardous to crews below. We’re helping clear some mud from the road to blaze a trail for rescue workers, but it’s too soon to tell how much damage has been done to the highway.

At the moment, geologists from several agencies including WSDOT are on-scene and monitoring the hillside for the safety personnel watching for further safety issues.

There are no good detour options around the portion of SR 530 affected by the mudslide. Those heading to and from Darrington need to use SR 530 to SR 20, and then take I-5. The detour is about an hour.

We also teaming up with Snohomish County to clear snow from Mountain Loop Highway. It’s a seasonal auxiliary road owned by the county and Forest Service that usually is closed in the winter. Once opened, the 25 mph gravel road will serve as an emergency route to and from Darrington. Crews working on the clearing effort reached the summit of Mountain Loop Highway around 11:30 a.m. today. Previous reopening estimates indicated the highway would open Thursday. There is potential that the work will be completed earlier than planned.

Currently, we are reaching out to potential contractors so we can start cleanup efforts as soon as possible. Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency late Saturday night so that we can apply for federal relief funds to cover the cleanup costs for reopening SR 530.The current slide is unrelated to previous work on the south side of the highway at Skaglund Hill. Between 2006 and 2012, our contractor crews installed a rock buttress along the south bank of the Stillaguamish River just below SR 530. This reinforced and stabilized the hillside. We also installed a series of drainage pipes into the hillside and a rock wall that cost $13.3 million.

Snohomish County has asked that all survivors of the slide or people missing someone call (425) 388-5088.
For up to the minute information from the Emergency Operations Center, check Snohomish County’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.


Anonymous said...

Pave an alt road under the power towers. Where are we living, in Peru? Is the governor going to do his job anytime soon? Nice job leaving those people to hypothermia. Real First World response. Go to Switzerland for some training.

Anonymous said...

Dreadful sorrow! Deadly landslide hits Oso. No; deadly landslide hits again. Please read the scientists report. The muddy landslides are a repeat occurrence in that area. Here is my opinion: Ban all development along Hwy 530, 5 miles on each side; Arlington to Darrington. Please ask the Federal government to buy-out land owners presently there. Restrict the area usages to ultra-low population density activities such as orchards or timber farming. No overnight living or camping allowed. And: Photo-toll fees at each end of Hwy 530; tolls collected to be used exclusively for life-insurance for motorists. Will someone please improve on my suggestions and then submit an ask to our federal government? The text above was authored by Dwight of Renton.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time now to consider the living and punch through a temporary road? Darrington is dying! Enough of this.

Anonymous said...

What are the possibilities of a series of bridges? That way the river can do what it does and we can still travel through the area. Similar to maybe US2. This is a difficult balance between the health of the river health and commuters. I am one of those commuters living along 530 and do appreciate what you have done!!

Ryan Saunders Jones said...

You know, given the highway 530 closures, I wonder if an argument could be made to improve and pave the mountain loop highway? Has that option ever been explored? If so, what is the feasibility of improving the mountain loop highway? Seems like that road would make a good alternative to 530 (especially if people are going to Darrington from the south). Just a thought.

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