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Highway 7 closure could last until October

Post by Rob Carson / The News Tribune on July 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm with 4 Comments »
July 3, 2012 3:37 pm

A five-mile stretch of state Route 7 that was closed by a slide on June 7 will remain closed through the summer, the state Department of Transportation reported Tuesday. The Eatonville-area closure extends from state Route 161 to Alder Lake.

Steep terrain and a still-unstable hillside are challenging geotechnical experts as they continue to assess how expansive the slide was and why it occurred.

Kevin Dayton, the transportation department’s regional administrator, said it’s likely a soil nail wall will have to be installed. Soil nail walls reinforce existing soil by installing threaded steel bars into slopes or cuts as wall construction proceeds from top down.

“It could be August before it is designed and ready to be constructed and October until it is completed,” Dayton said. “Until we know the hillside is stable, we won’t open the roadway.”

Unlike typical highway work, this project is more than 100 feet up from the roadway at an approximate 45 degree angle, noted transportation department spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker.

To assess the condition of the slide, Bingham Baker said, a geotechnical team drilled three holes up to 200 feet deep above the slide site to determine subsurface soil and bedrock conditions. They also installed instruments to measure any movement and groundwater conditions above the slide to help formulate a plan on how to stabilize it in the long term.

Next week more drilling will occur within the slide mass itself to gather more data about the slide, Bingham Baker said.

In the meantime, a signed detour around the closure adds about 10 to 15 minutes to trips for approximately 1,600 drivers a day.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. Okay…so what is the best route to travel to the Mt Rainier Park Nisqually Entrance when coming from Tacoma? I sure don’t like the idea of going through all the main traffic on Hwy 161 from Hwy 512. Will it be quicker to go down Hwy 7 through Spanaway and then take the detour at Hwy 161? Thanks for any advice.

  2. DrWernerKlopek says:

    Personally I’d drive WA 7 to the Eatonville Cutoff, then turn left onto it. It will wind up running into WA 161 just north of Eatonville. This way one does not back track. Either way you are stuck going through Eatonville.

    This is actually a plus for the city though … they have a captive revenue source in stopping speeders and other traffic violations to ticket. Maybe this way they’ll break even on the budget.

    If you ask a local though … they’ll say the WSDOT caused that slide area to worsen when they sheared off the entire hillside.

  3. SPanaway1 says:

    Drive through Eatonville and stop for a minute. They honestly could use some revenue. Either the Eatonville Cutoff Road (from Mckenna it’s called SR702)OR the Eatonville Highway from SR7 just after you climb out of the Ohop Valley will get you to Eatonville. Heads up if you stop at the grocery store, it doen’t take plastic or checks. They work with cash only.

  4. bonbrico says:

    Does anyone know if I can drive hwy 7 all the way to Pack Forest from Tacoma? When I went to Elbe recently, I was rerouted at the first Eatonville cutoff, so I am still unclear exactly where the work is taking place on 7.

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