Mudslide closes westbound state Route 18 in Auburn into next week | slide show
January 15, 2010 · Updated 6:16 PM
The westbound lanes of state Route 18 will remain closed until at least Wednesday, Jan. 20, after a second slide brought down approximately 1,500 cubic yards of mud, rocks and debris across all westbound lanes of the highway Thursday evening, Jan. 14.
The state Department of Transportation will keep the road closed until it is safe for workers and drivers. WSDOT has a crew posted near eastbound SR 18 in case the hillside begins to move, threatening eastbound lanes. Crews can close the lanes on a moment’s notice.
Debris still covers all lanes of westbound SR 18, trees need to be removed from the hillside and other repairs are necessary before WSDOT crews can safely reopen the highway. With more rain on the way, crews will have to wait for signs that the hillside has stabilized before it is safe for crews to work in the area.
“This area has a history of slides and the hillside is very steep. The area where crews need to stage and work is narrow and close to the highway,” said WSDOT Regional Administrator Lorena Eng said, WSDOT regional administrator. “We will do everything we can to get the highway open quickly because we understand how important this route is – especially to freight interests. But we also need to make sure we don’t compromise the safety of drivers or our crews in the process.”
Keep traffic moving
SR 18 is a major route for commuters and freight haulers. Drivers should expect to see heavier traffic on nearby local roads as well as SR 167, SR 516 and I-405. WSDOT traffic engineers have taken several steps to keep traffic moving in the area. They include:
• retimed signals in the area to keep traffic moving on alternate routes;
• expanded hours of our traffic management center so we can better manage and react to unplanned situations that can create congestion or delays;
• extra communications staff to keep drivers up to date;
• four portable message signs to keep drivers informed of traffic detours and
• clearing all construction closures from the detour routes or other routes which may see increased congestion due to this slide.
Drivers should plan extra time if they need to travel in the area during the next few days and use the WSDOT traffic page for updated traffic information.
SR 18 slide
The Washington State Patrol notified WSDOT of the first slide at 3:47 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14. Because the slide area was nearly 50 feet above the road, maintenance crews closed the right lane and right shoulder of westbound SR 18 as a precaution
A larger slide occurred at 10:40 p.m. Thursday night and brought down mud, rocks and debris across all westbound lanes. The slide pushed debris up against the jersey barrier separating the west- and eastbound lanes. There are no plans to close the eastbound lanes at this time, but crews are closely monitoring conditions.
Crews will remain alert as the forecast calls for continued heavy rain throughout the weekend. We will post updated information about the slide and our plans to stabilize the slope on the What’s Happening Now page.