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Mountain Loop Highway Reopens

posted May 26, 2011, 12:46 PM by Martha Rasmussen

Mountain Loop Highway reopened at Waldheim Slide

Snohomish County Public Works crews have finished major emergency repairs to stabilize Mountain Loop Highway at the Waldheim Slide and have reopened both lanes for the first time since the road was closed in December.

“Our road crews have worked diligently to reopen a road that is not only used by permanent residents in the area but also day trippers heading off to some of the best recreational destinations in Snohomish County,” said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “We understand access to these jewels is important, especially when families are relying on local outings due to a tough economy.”

Mountain Loop Highway is considered one of the best scenic routes in Snohomish County and offers access to U.S. Forest Service lands, the Big Four Ice Caves and more.  

“I appreciate the effort by Snohomish County to get this important area open for public access,” said Peter Forbes, district ranger for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “It is an important area providing a lot of recreational opportunities.”

In March, crews began concerted efforts to fix the road and stop the ongoing slide, which had caused one lane and part of a second lane to collapse into the river below. Preliminary cost estimates for repairs were $1.5 million to $2 million. To date, the county has spent nearly $800,000 on emergency repairs. 

In mid-May, the Federal Highway Administration, which is supplying funding for the repairs, asked Snohomish County crews to stop work for consideration of an environmental review process. Satisfied with the county’s plans to make environmental improvements along with road repairs, Federal Highways approved work to continue last week.

Ongoing maintenance, laying of asphalt and other minor repair work will continue, but vehicles will be able to use both lanes, which now are laid with gravel. Signage in both directions urges drivers to still be cautious. There may be intermittent closures of one lane during the work-week, while crews finish up some of the emergency work.

Additional restoration and mitigation work will take place in the near future after all environmental permitting is complete.

With Mountain Loop Highway at the Waldheim Slide now open, travelers should make sure other locations are open due to snow and ice still in the area. The gate at Deer Creek is still closed due to heavy winter snow accumulations and is anticipated to stay that way at least until mid-June, depending on snow levels in the next few weeks.  

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Christopher Schwarzen

Executive Office

Snohomish County

425-388-3883

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