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May 15, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Highway 530 in slide area could reopen by late June, Inslee is told

OSO, Snohomish County  (AP) — The roughly mile-long stretch of Highway 530 buried by the Oso mudslide could open by late June, state Department of Transportation officials told Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday

The stretch of the road would be in rough shape, officials said, but it would provide a faster and safer link to Interstate 5 for the town of Darrington, which was cut off by the massive mudslide.

Department of Transportation officials updated Inslee as he toured the site on Thursday to inspect the cleanup progress, the Everett Herald reported.

The March 22 mudslide that buried dozens of homes also covered about a mile of the highway. The slide killed 41 people and left two missing.

“I think we’ve seen the power of teamwork, the power of compassion and the power of volunteers,” Inslee said.

After the odds of recovering the last two victims diminished, state officials and crews turned their focus on rebuilding the stretch of the rural highway, which is a vital economic link for Darrington and surrounding communities.

Currently, drivers must use an unpaved utility road to go around the mudslide.

Bill Vlcek, a regional administrator for the Department of Transportation, told Inslee that crews have hauled away about 23,000 cubic yards of mud, or about 20 truckloads per hour.

A contractor has cleared about 1,100 feet of the highway buried by the mudslide, Vlcek said. So far, most of the roadway is intact. Of what they’ve uncovered, only about 160 feed of the highway was destroyed.

There’s an estimated 800 feet to go before workers would have cleared the road.

“We’re hoping to get traffic on 530, off the utility road, by the middle to end of June,” Vlcek said.

The department’s goal is to have a permanent, elevated highway built by October, when flood danger increases.

Comments | More in General news, Traffic & Transit | Topics: Highway 530, Oso mudslide

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