One-lane road may spell relief from long Highway 530 detour
It could be months before Highway 530 is reopened between Arlington and Darrington, but a temporary direct route might be available sooner.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The earliest direct access between Arlington and Darrington since the Oso mudslide may come on a one-lane road already in place and used by Seattle City Light, but state officials say they can’t predict when it could open to the public.
Asked if it could take weeks or months to open the route, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) spokesman Lars Erickson said, “I don’t think we’re talking about months, but I don’t want to make a commitment and turn out to be wrong.”
Erickson said the narrow road crosses the property of landowners who have provided easements to City Light to use the route, but those agreements do not include public use.
WSDOT is considering ways to restrict access to that road if it is opened and does not plan to widen it to two lanes.
Meanwhile, rebuilding Highway 530 is expected to take much longer.
Erickson said it could take from one to three months just to remove material that buried the roadway in the March 22 mudslide.
After that will come repairing the road and evaluating and constructing safeguards to protect it from further slides, before drivers can avoid the two-hour detour using Highway 20.
“We know there’s damage to a roadway. We’re seeing parts of the road in debris that are obviously not where the road was,” Erickson said.
Erickson said Highway 530’s path was on a route believed to be a safe way through an area that has had mudslides in the past.
But the terrain has changed dramatically, even altering the course of the river. “It’s running in areas that it wasn’t running in before,” he said.
WSDOT officials have been holding meetings this week along the affected route of the slide.
The last of those meetings is from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Arlington, at the Stillaguamish Senior Center, 18308 Smokey Point Blvd.
Seven people remain missing in the slide; the remains of 37 have been found.
Jack Broom: email@example.com or 206-464-2222