Snohomish County’s Public Works Department is still working on repairs to roads damaged during floods this past January and December.
The county has experienced flood and slide damage at more than a dozen key road locations, with repairs expected to cost upwards of $3.5 million.
With the ground saturated and unstable slopes already compromised from previous storms, January’s flooding was the tipping point contributing to more than 15 landslides and severe damage to certain county roads. Preliminary cost estimates for initial debris cleanup and repairs for this event alone stands at $1 million.
Reiter Road, just east of Gold Bar, was severely damaged by two landslides and collapsed pavement, leading to closure for repairs expected to take months and cost more than $750,000.
Another landslide at Waldheim Hill worsened and crews have worked to help residents maintain safe access to their homes.
“Many people assume that once a weather event is over, our work is done, but that’s rarely the case,” said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “While our crews always rise to the challenge of keeping residents safe during inclement weather and flooding, they continue working diligently to clear debris and make repairs.”
When the first blast of winter weather hit Snohomish County Nov. 22, 2010, blanketing the area with snow and ice, county roads employees jumped into action plowing streets and applying sand and salt while working 16-hour shifts to keep primary routes clear. While many roads in the region were impassible, Snohomish County’s primary and secondary roads remained open.
Only weeks later, record flooding along the Stillaguamish River and moderate flooding on the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers had crews back at it, this time delivering more than 1,100 yards of sand and 5,000 bags to Snohomish County communities, while the county’s Emergency Management Department kept citizens informed of high water dangers.
In mid-January, the region was once again covered by a brief but widespread snowstorm. Crews worked through the night to keep roads clear.
Only days later, officials were faced with a combination of seasonally warm temperatures and large amounts of precipitation. Severe flooding on the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers once again kept Public Works crews on the clock.
“It’s safe to say that when the flood waters recede, that’s when public works crews really kick it in high gear, clearing debris, stabilizing slopes and repairing damaged roadways,” said Public Works Director Steve Thomsen. “Such work can take months.”
Since flooding in December, Public Works’ crews also have responded by taking damaged household goods and building debris. A fee waiver for flood-damaged residential waste at the county’s transfer stations and drop boxes has seen the county take in an additional 46 tons of debris. County officials expect to receive as much as 70 tons of debris by the end of the program April 13.