Local Information

SR 706 in Pierce County to remain closed until further notice due to landslide risk

Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 13:39

Doug Adamson, communications, 360-357-2716

Correction: Please note the news release has been updated to reflect the Washington State Department of Transportation is working with the U. S. Forest Service to determine a plan to stabilize the hillside. A previous version cited the National Park Service.


ASHFORD – A portion of State Route 706 leading to Mount Rainier National Park will remain closed until further notice due to an unstable hillside above the highway. As the continuing slide remains too dangerous to remove at this point, the Washington State Department of Transportation does not know when the highway will reopen.

The road has been closed since Thursday, Feb. 6, when driving rain triggered several mudslides, closing all lanes. Assessments of the scene during Sunday, Feb. 9 found it still too dangerous to remove debris.

“We want to reopen the highway as soon as possible, but the slope continues to move and is very unstable,” said WSDOT assistant region administrator Troy Cowan. “Removing debris from the highway that’s up to 6 feet deep in places, plus strong ongoing running water, may trigger additional slides that could put lives – both of crews and travelers – in danger.”

The highway remains closed to all travelers at milepost 10.18 near Kernahan Road East.  The closure blocks access to Mount Rainier National Park’s Nisqually entrance. There is no detour available. WSDOT strongly encourages residents to not venture beyond the closure location due the severity of the unstable hillside — the closure is in place for everyone’s safety.

In addition to clearing the slide when it is safe to do so, WSDOT also will work with the U.S. Forest Service to begin the process to determine a long-term fix to stabilize the hillside.

Meantime, WSDOT maintenance crews are working in multiple areas before the closure point. The work ranges from clearing culverts to rebuilding shoulders. 

Visit the Tacomatraffic.com web page for updated construction and maintenance information for Pierce County. Real-time traveler information is available from the WSDOT app and by following the WSDOT regional Twitter feed.

 

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