Mudslide repairs, rumble strip project to cause delays
Road projects — one intentional, the other not — will affect motorists using Highway 20 in either direction out of the Methow Valley for the next several weeks.
A May 1 mudslide on the state highway at milepost 222 has reduced the roadway to one useable lane until repairs are completed, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said.
The mudslide, which occurred about 10 miles west of Okanogan and 7 miles east of the Loup Loup summit, undermined the roadway and left a guardrail hanging out in space.
Travel will be reduced to one lane with signal-controlled traffic for several weeks while repairs proceed, WSDOT said.
“Our geotechnical crews have been on scene since the incident and have determined that ground water eroded the bank below the road,” WSDOT said in a press release. “An emergency repair plan is being developed, but for now, we’ve installed a traffic signal as well as barriers and cones to help guide traffic through the one open lane. Additionally, no vehicles wider than 12 feet are permitted.”
There is no estimate yet on when the roadway will be repaired, WSDOT said.
The recent slide area is less than a mile east of where a series of slides closed Hihgway 20 in April 2017. At that time, nine distinct slide areas from milepost 207 to milepost 222 closed the road and required almost four months of repair work.
“Repairing the roadway will be no easy task,” WSDOT said in the release. “The height and slope of the roadway and hillside present very challenging conditions. It’s not known yet if making repairs from below the roadway is feasible, and at best, the work will be very difficult. If it’s not possible to make repairs from below, we’d need to work from above the washout. Repairs could require a full closure of the roadway.”
Expect delays when traveling through the area and be alert for construction workers.
And west of us …
Meanwhile, a planned WSDOT safety project on the North Cascades Highway, covering 42 miles between Marblemount and Granite Creek, will cause traffic delays during daylight hours, WSDOT said.
Contractor crews working for WSDOT are carving rumble strips into the centerline of the highway. Traffic will be reduced to one lane with flaggers and/or pilot cars guiding traffic around work zones. Expect backups and delays between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, WSDOT said.
Between 2014 and 2018, Highway 20 from Marblemount to Granite Creek had 13 collisions involving vehicles crossing over the center line, WSDOT said. Five of those were head-on collisions. Based on national research, rumble strips reduce the risk of head-on or opposite direction collisions by 21-25%, WSDOT reported.