Small slide in Ross Point area closes SR166

A small mudslide closed State Route 166 through Gorst on Sunday morning while Washington State Department of Transportation crews removed more than 100 yards of soil from the roadway.

According to WSDOT spokesman Lloyd Brown, the slide was reported at 7:40 a.m., and crews had reopened the road to traffic by noon.

He said approximately 30 to 40 yards of material remained alongside the roadway, but it was not affecting traffic and he expected it would be removed sometime today.

The slide occurred at the section of SR-166 known as Ross Point, which recently reopened in September after crews spent several weeks finishing the last phase of several million dollars worth of repairs and maintenance on the notoriously unstable hillside.

Brown said heavy weekend rains most likely were the major cause of the slide Sunday, which he said would have undoubtedly been much worse if the work earlier in the summer had not been completed.

“Crews removed almost 180,000 cubic yards of material from Ross Point. (If they hadn’t,) this could have been a much more significant slide,” he said, which perhaps could have closed the road for five weeks instead of five hours.

Brown said WSDOT officials and maintenance crews will be inspecting the slide area to determine what caused it, and if it could have been prevented.

“We don’t know yet what came down, and whether we installed something incorrectly, or if it was something that was going to happen anyway,” he said.

For the final phase of Ross Point work, Engineer John McNutt said crews first removed unstable material from the slopes, then buttressed the last three sections of hillside in the same manner as the most notorious areas which were secured between 1992 and 2000.

At the time the project was completed in September, officials said all slide areas which have buttressing — even the ones stabilized 10 years ago — have stayed put since then, and Brown said the recent work looked just as stable.

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