In the news:
Crews scooping up mud, debris from Highway 20
Crews are working to clear 30,000 cubic yards of mud and debris from Highway 20, to reopen the most direct route to the Methow Valley.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In Mazama, the rumbling of heavy equipment is the sound of progress — it means road-clearing crews are headed out Highway 20 to scoop up 30,000 cubic yards of mud and debris that closed off a key route to the Methow Valley beginning Saturday night.
Two slides were cleared Tuesday, according to Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) spokesman Jeff Adamson. “Only six more to go!” he added.
When the slides began, after a rain and hailstorm Saturday night, the state closed the road between milepost 147 and 157. It initially looked like the muck could be cleared by Monday, Adamson said. Then Mother Nature shook out her apron once again.
“By midday Sunday, we had eight slides,” Adamson added. “By Sunday evening, one of those slides was a quarter-mile long and 25 feet deep over both lanes of the highway.”
On Tuesday afternoon, WSDOT couldn’t say exactly when the job would be done, but some people estimate it could be as soon as the end of the week.
In the meantime, the closure of a portion of the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway — a popular summer tourist route — has caused more than a little bit of consternation. Travelers can still get to the Methow, but they can’t take the most direct route. The detour adds another hour or two onto the trip from Seattle.
“This is the busiest month of the year,” said Serena Lockwood, assistant manager of the Mazama Store. “In terms of our business, it’s a huge hit.” The store sells a hodgepodge of items, including groceries and kitchenware. It’s also the place to gas up before hitting the highway. And where locals call looking for up-to-the-minute information. Lockwood said she’s been fielding calls about the road closure all day.
Same goes for Annette Pitts, executive director of the Cascade Loop Association, which promotes the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway. “I’ve had the same conversation hundreds of times.”
Each time, she repeats the same message: “Don’t cancel your plans. Just because this one thing is definitely making it inconvenient doesn’t mean you have to stay home.”
Maureen O'Hagan: 206-464-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org