Failing road closed; no auto access to 200 homes
Monday afternoon brought a respite from the rain, but it brought little comfort to many residents of Upper Preston. Overnight, more ground gave...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Monday afternoon brought a respite from the rain, but it brought little comfort to many residents of Upper Preston.
Overnight, more ground gave way under a partially collapsed section of Upper Preston Road, causing county workers to ban all traffic on the crumbling roadway.
That left about 200 homes with no vehicle access to the outside world.
Patti Banashak pushed a wheelbarrow full of groceries up a gravelly hillside path Monday afternoon, her 6-year-old son in tow. She had bought half of what she wanted, knowing she'd have to carry it uphill.
"It's stressful. We don't sleep much at night," she said. "I thought it was getting better, but it's getting worse."
Like many residents, Banashak and her husband left a car on the other side of the break so they could get around once they crossed the closed area. Other neighbors had to rely on friends or just hole up at home. Banashak's husband hasn't been able to work at his window-cleaning business because his equipment is stranded at his house.
King County road workers are building a gravel bypass road for emergency-vehicle access, but it wasn't known when the public will be able to drive through. Repairs to the main road won't be completed for three to four months, said county Transportation Department spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok.
Free Upper Preston shuttle:
In the meantime, a King County Metro shuttle is providing free rides from Preston to a spot near the collapsed road. From there, pedestrians walk along a path near the work area to get around the partially collapsed road. Road workers escorted children through the area as they returned home from school Monday.
Construction machines tore away at the hillside, working furiously to build the bypass road, scheduled to be completed today. It will provide access for emergency vehicles and critical deliveries like propane fuel, which is used for heating in many of the area's homes.
After the bypass road is open, the county will evaluate how safe it would be for public access, Ogershok said.
The road partially collapsed Nov. 5 when the Raging River flooded its banks and washed away much of the ground below the asphalt. Until Monday, residents had limited vehicle access.
Ogershok said the overall situation on county roads has improved.
But nearby Preston Frontage Road Bridge also partially collapsed during the recent storms and will take three to four months to repair.
"They're saying in two days we ought to be able to get out of here," said area resident Paul Shields, surveying the eroded hillside. "I've been here 20 years and I've never seen anything like this."
Joe Mullin: 206-464-2761 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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