A 5-mile stretch of state Route 7 in and around Eatonville will reopen today after a landslide closed the main route to Mount Rainier National Park six months ago.
State Department of Transportation officials warned that the road could close again because they made modifications, rather than fix the hillside, because of the cost.
“I take the safety of the traveling public very seriously,” regional administrator Kevin Dayton said Tuesday. “If we see any reason for concern, we will shut the road down again,”
In April, Route 7 from Alder to La Grande closed after a hillside above the highway was deemed unsafe. Permanent repairs were planned, but cost estimates ran higher than the Transportation Department had predicted, so officials decided to make temporary repairs.
The project will go out for bid again in the spring.
Geotechnical engineers will continue to monitor the hillside for potential slides. Weighted shipping containers have been placed along the highway between the road and the Jersey barrier to catch debris that falls.
Other restrictions on that section of highway include a reduced speed limit of 20 miles per hour and 9-foot-wide lanes in each direction. Truck traffic was advised to continue using the detour routes on state Route 161 and Alder Cut-off Road.
About 1,600 drivers use that stretch of highway daily, the state said.Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 email@example.com