ASHFORD, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is "hopeful" that State Route 706 east of Ashford will reopen in mid-March after landslides forced its closure last week.
Two "significant" landslides on Feb. 7 closed SR 706 and blocked access to Mount Rainier National Park's Nisqually entrance. The unstable conditions limited what crews were able to do immediately following the slides.
A week later, the area is still a muddy mess.
WSDOT said its crews are now separating the rock from the wood debris so the rock can be incorporated into the project. Crews are also hauling debris out of the work zone.
Contractors estimated it will take about one week to remove the slide debris, inspect the damage and identify repairs, WSDOT said in a blog post Friday. Crews will be working seven days a week during the daylight hours to get it done.
"We are hopeful that SR 706 can re-open with two-way traffic by mid-March. Due to the conditions of the slide and weather conditions, the timeline may change," said WSDOT officials.
The closure at milepost 10.18 on SR 706, which blocks access to the national park, will remain in place. There is no detour available.
The closure has affected about 200 people living in between where the slides happened and the national park entrance.
WSDOT has had to escort residents through a winding forest road to get in and out of the area to get supplies and other essentials.