April 9, 2001
State announces opening of SR 202 will be delayed at least a month
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
FALL CITY - They giveth and they taketh away. Just a day after announcing that SR 202 would be reopening, the Washington State Department of Transportation took it all back.
The heavily traveled link between Fall City and Snoqualmie has been closed since the Feb. 28 earthquake, which caused damage to a 1,000-foot section of the road near Snoqualmie Falls. The closure is between the falls and SE Fish Hatchery Road.
Last Wednesday, WSDOT said the road would be reopened by the end of the week, with weight restrictions. On Thursday, they said, "Wait a minute, not so fast."
Linda Mullen, WSDOT public information manager, said that crews had planned to use Wednesday's good weather to fix a 900-foot longitudinal crack in the center of the road. But when they got there, they discovered that existing cracks were wider and there were new cracks, she said.
"A geologist went out to look and found additional sloughing off from an old slide that is water-related," she said. "We are disappointed, but we can't open the road until we know what is going on underneath."
She said engineers will continue to monitor the road for at least another month. WSDOT has been closely monitoring the area since the quake occurred, but this was the first time movement has been detected, she said.
Engineers will use the next month to collect and analyze additional data about ground movement under the roadway. The department will use the information to decide if the highway can be opened with weight restrictions or if it has to remain closed until additional repair work is completed. The planned re-opening was to limit vehicles to under 16 tons. The estimated traffic volume on SR 202 on an average weekday is approximately 8,000 vehicles.
"We will be monitoring the road for the next month to see what happens," she said. "We don't want to add traffic loads if the ground is still moving. It's definitely a public safety issue."
Mullen said the area has been under close scrutiny by maintenance crews since a landslide two years ago. The agency is finalizing plans for a permanent repair project to secure the hillside, anticipated to begin in the summer of 2002.