Abbi Russell, WSDOT Communications, 360-905-2058 (Vancouver)
RIDGEFIELD – For the next month, drivers on State Route 501 will see a parade of excavators, construction equipment and more than 300 dump trucks rolling toward Ridgefield. Today, Jan. 17, crews will begin emergency repairs on a landslide that shifted approximately 3,000 cubic yards of earth and debris below the highway near Smythe Road.
Contractor crews working with the Washington State Department of Transportation will excavate loose soil and debris, stabilize the hillside below the highway and repair cracked pavement and damaged guardrail on eastbound SR 501.
Unusually heavy rains in November and December saturated soils next to the highway and prompted the Dec. 30 slide. This is not the first time that WSDOT has responded to landslide damage in this area.
“We repaired a similar landslide a few hundred yards east of this spot in 2006,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Leon Winger. “The slope here is very steep, the area sees a lot of rain and a there’s a creek cutting through the hillside below the highway – every one of these factors contributes to slides.”
On Jan. 4, WSDOT reduced the SR 501 speed limit to 25 mph between Ridgefield and Smythe Road. Crews closed the eastbound lane Jan. 9, and installed a temporary traffic signal to direct drivers past the slide area. These measures will remain in place until repairs are complete.
Crews will work daylight hours, seven days a week. Repairs are expected to be complete by mid-February.
Repairs are being funded through state highway maintenance and preservation funds, and are estimated at $500,000.