DARRINGTON – Commuters traveling to and from Darrington are finally feeling relief after five weeks of landslide detours that added hours to their trips and hundreds of miles to their odometers.
Just after midnight Tuesday morning, April 29, pilot vehicles began escorting local drivers through a single-lane gravel road known as the Seattle City Light Access Road to bypass the section of State Route 530 still blocked by the landslide.
The Washington State Department of Transportation secured agreements with underlying property owners and Seattle City Light to ensure the route’s availability for use as a local emergency bypass for residents cut off by the SR 530 slide.
“From the very beginning, Seattle City Light has worked with emergency responders to assist however it could,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “This agreement continues that support for community recovery efforts by providing a vital transportation link so residents can get to work and school and businesses can make deliveries.”
WSDOT needs help from drivers to keep local traffic moving
Trips through the local access road are averaging between 15 and 20 minutes. But those times could increase if non-local traffic begins using the route for recreational trips.
“Everyone needs to do their part to keep this critical lifeline open to the local community during the reconstruction of SR 530,” said Linea Laird, WSDOT chief engineer. “The temporary bypass will not carry high volumes, and that is why we are asking drivers who don’t have local community ties or local business interests to use SR 20 to detour around the slide zone.”
Rules of the road
Granite Construction Company was the low bidder selected for the $3.384 million contract to operate and maintain the emergency bypass road for six months. Emergency funds from the Federal Highway Administration will cover the cost of this temporary road until traffic is restored on SR 530.
WSDOT will award a contract for the clearing of material from SR 530 by early next week. The low bid contractor will be required to follow the removal plan developed by WSDOT and Snohomish County. The plan ensures proper care and respectful recovery of any human remains, possessions or hazardous materials discovered while the roadway is cleared and reopened rapidly and in an environmentally responsible manner. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the majority of costs for this project, which should take about a month to complete.
In addition, WSDOT has compiled a short list of teams for the design/build contract for constructing a permanent raised alignment of SR 530 east of Oso.
The list includes:
WSDOT will determine the best-value proposal by the end of May with the notice to proceed issued by early June. Completion is scheduled for early October. Funding for this portion will be paid for by the Federal Highway Administration.