CHELAN - South Lakeshore Road has been closed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) becasue of a rock slide that occured sometime yesterday evening.
"We put out a highway alert at 7:50 p.m. last evening officially closing the road, but we can't say howmuch earlier the slie actually came down," Communication Manager Jeff Adamson said Thursday morning. "The cause is unknown for sure until our Geo Tech engineers confim."
The area in question, is farmiliar with incidents like these as there have been a few slides in the same vacinity in the past, inclding a large rock slide on Feb, 18, 2016 when over 800 tons of rock blocked a section of the South Shore Road.
"The typical reason is at this time of year and under the weather conditions we've had ground saturation," Adamson explained. "The trigger is also typically the freeze/thaw cycle from day to night - the water in cracks freezes, expands and breaks rock off hillsides. There have been slides along the south shore since the road was built. The steep hillsides above the road (as with all of our "river grade" highways) are exposed to weather and deteriorate over time (depends on the slope composition, local weather, and other factors). Obviously the hillside above south lakeshore drive absorbs a lot of moisture as the seasonal weather attacks it."
As for how long the road will be closed, Adamson said they are still unsure until their evaluation is finished.
"Guesses about how long the road will be closed can't be more than wild ones until we know how stable the rest of the slope is, particularly above the slide site," Adamson elaborated. "We are staging equipment, explosives and arranging for a crew so clean-up work can begin when it's determined to be safe, which could be several days. Again, we won't know for sure until the evaluation is finished."
More information and updates on the slide can be found at wsdot.wa.gov.
The Lake Chelan Mirror will continue to update the story as more information comes out.
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