EVERETT - The Washington State Department of Transportation said Monday they plan to have the access road open around the Oso landslide open at 12:01am Tuesday morning to move traffic directly between Arlington and Darrington.
WSDOT spokesman Travis Phelps said pilot cars will lead cars westbound at the top of the hour, turn around and lead cars eastbound at the bottom of the hour.
The access road was used by Seattle City Light crews to maintain high tension lines leading from the utilities dams at Diablo along the Skagit River to Seattle. The limited use road has now been rocked, and in some places paved and in many places widened for the rescue and recovery efforts in the valley below. The road was generally above and out of reach of the slide.
"Clearly, the impetus to bringing everything back to some sense of normalcy in the valley is to get the highway open," said Snohomish County official Gary Haakenson, who is leading the county's recovery efforts.
Those efforts he said are taking a holistic approach, and include the valley's economic recovery, housing for survivors and mental health and wellness topping the list of priorities.
As for the road, WSDOT says it is hoping to have at least one lane of the part of 530 that's still buried under the slide open this fall. But Phelps says there's still a lot they don't know about the condition of the road because it's still buried under slide debris.
While slow - speed along the access road will be limited to 10 mph - it's still faster than the 1 1/2 to two-hour detour to get between Arlington and Darrington by going through Skagit County and following Highway 20.
Phelps says this is for locals only and access will be monitored by troopers with the Washington State Patrol. There will be no stopping. Heavy trucks will still need to detour around, but logging trucks are expected to be allowed as log truck drivers are used to driving such roads.
"This is not the road to go check out the slide," said Phelps.