A Darrington man says people and companies most affected by the Highway 530 mudslide are not being properly considered for the job of clearing the buried highway, and he has collected hundreds of signatures on a petition asking state officials to rectify the situation.
Brian Roggenbuck said Thursday he had collected 700 signatures, and wrote to Gov. Jay Inslee saying that people who have “volunteered their time, equipment and energy in the search and recovery effort” should be hired now that paid jobs clearing the roadway are available.
He said the process being used by the Transportation Department (WSDOT) for selecting a contractor to clear the corridor has excluded qualified local residents and companies.
Lisa Harper, a spokeswoman for Gov. Inslee said the governor is aware of the issue, and that his strong preference is to “source work locally,” when possible. She said Inslee is relying on WSDOT to see how that can be done.
Travis Phelps, a WSDOT spokesman, said bids are now in hand for the work of clearing the road, and a contract could be awarded next week. Once it has been, WSDOT will help put together “meet-and-greet” sessions in which area residents with the skills needed can meet the contractor and apply for work on the project.
Phelps said the issue of hiring locally was first aired at community meetings in the slide area a couple of weeks ago. He said more information about jobs on the relief and recovery efforts is posted on the website sr530slide.com.
With 41 victims of the March 22 landslide found and identified, Snohomish County officials early this week ended the active search for the remaining two victims.