A local contractor has begun clearing the woody debris from the large slide that has blocked State Route 109 just west of the Hoquiam city limits since Sunday, Jan. 17.
“Through an emergency contract, (state Department of Transportation’s) contractor Brumfield Construction Inc. began clearing woody debris today (Friday) along State Route 109 at milepost 3,” said department spokeswoman Christina Werner. “Crews plan to work consecutive 10-hour days until the work is complete.”
This is just the first step in reopening the road.“Once the debris has been removed from the roadway, engineering geologists will evaluate conditions and make recommendations to safely reopen,” said Werner. “At this time, there is no definitive timeline for reopening. We continue to ask for the public’s patience and to not go beyond posted road closure signs.”
The slide, which broke loose on a sunny afternoon several days after soaking rains hit the area for three days, is about 300 feet long and up to 90 feet high. A portion of the debris slid down into the roadway and the bay, but about two-thirds of it remained on the slope itself, making it unstable.
A signed detour is in place, and drivers making their way between Hoquiam and Ocean Shores should plan on taking it for the foreseeable future. The detour reportedly adds about 10 minutes to the trip.
From Hoquiam and points east, the detour takes you up Highway 101 to Ocean Beach Road. The 109 Spur on the west end of Hoquiam also remains open between State Route 109 and Highway 101. Drivers will then take Powell Road south off of Ocean Beach Road to hook back up with State Route 109 east of Ocean Shores.
There is still some local traffic using State Route 109 in the closed stretch between Grays Harbor Boulevard and Powell Road. Be aware of potential oncoming local traffic when exiting 109 to the detour route. Some of the detour signs are difficult to see, particularly on Ocean Beach Road and especially at night, so use caution when nearing the Powell Road detour.
The Department of Transportation has set up a blog about the slide, which is updated regularly, at https://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2021/01/mudslide-closes-sr-109-in-grays-harbor.html.