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‘Primitive’ roadway opening to provide local access through Oso mudslide area

WSDOT has partnered with Seattle City Light to open a road around the Oso mudslide for local traffic to connect between Darrington and Arlington. (AP image)

Drivers trying to get around the Oso mudslide will get a “primitive connection” starting Monday at midnight, as the Washington Department of Transportation opens a one-lane road to allow local residents to get between Arlington and Darrington.

The Seattle City Light access road is part dirt and gravel with some asphalt sections, says WSDOT spokesman Travis Phelps.

Cars will travel slowly behind pilot cars, who will escort them along the stretch that runs south of the debris field in Oso.

“This is definitely an interim solution. We are working very quickly on efforts to clear material off the existing 530 as well as contracts to rebuild 530 itself.”

Caravans will be taken through the area in the westbound direction every hour at the top of the hour, and eastbound on the half-hour. A private contractor will maintain the road and operate the pilot cars 24-hours a day, Phelps says.

Phelps says the road is meant to serve as a lifeline for those cut off by the slide, and officials are discouraging others from traveling the stretch.

“This is for local access only,” he says. “Do your part and stay off this road if you’re not a local.”

With the active search and recovery effort concluded Monday, Phelps says WSDOT is stepping efforts to determine what it will take to reopen Highway 530. Crews are still working to clear the massive debris pile from the roadway and assess damage. Phelps says it’s likely significant work will be needed before the roadway can be reopened.

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