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More headaches for Puget Sound drivers in aftermath of recent flooding

The shoulder along SR 18. (photo courtesy WSDOT)

It’s been a few weeks since the heavy rain caused flooding all over Western Washington, but many of the flooded roads are still in need of repairs.

I’m sure drivers will remember all the detours they had to deal with during the flooding and all the delays. Drivers in a few areas need to prepare for continued delays in the aftermath.

Westbound Highway 18 is going to be closed this weekend to take care of a section of road that was washed out.

“Part of a turn-out got undermined, and then part of that turn-out, of course, fell into that,” the Washington Department of Transportation’s Tom Pearce said. “It hasn’t affected the shoulder. It hasn’t affected the roadway, yet.”

But it could.

“If we get more rain or more erosion, we could see further damage,” Pearce said. “If we just let it go, who knows how far it could go, and we could have to close the whole highway.”

Issaquah’s issues with early-February flooding

The westbound lanes of Highway 18 will be closed at 8 p.m. Friday. They aren’t scheduled to re-open until noon on Tuesday. The closure is at the Tiger Mountain summit. People will still be able to access the area, but not travel any further.

Pearce said they will open the lanes as soon as the work is done, so there’s a chance it could open early. This repair is somewhat weather dependent.

This is a little temporary pain on 18. It’s going to be much worse for people who drive between Carnation and Duvall. Highway 203 has been down to one lane near Stillwater after cracks started appearing in the road.

WSDOT’s Lisa Van Cise said engineers still don’t know why the road is settling. They drilled into the road last weekend and installed monitors, but they don’t have enough data yet to know what’s happening.

“We need to gather this data and monitor how much settlement is occurring, how much water is in the soil, what kind of soil is underneath the roadway so that we can then develop the right plan to fix the settling embankment,” she said.

Drivers have been dealing with alternating traffic through the area since the storms, and that is not going to change any time soon.

“If you start doing the math and put two and two together, you know this isn’t just another week or two of alternating traffic,” she said. “It’s going to be alternating traffic on 203 for the near future.”

The best guess is a few months at least. Here’s the timetable: Identify the issue, determine the fix, get the money, and finally, construction.

I’ll will be getting updates as the state does its work.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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