Clallam Bay landslide spread threatens water pipe

Lengthy closure for Highway 112

CLALLAM BAY — The large landslide on state Highway 112 near Clallam Bay continues to expand, delaying the state’s ability to clear the road. And it’s still moving, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The initial slide at milepost 15.8, which was caused by rainstorms on Nov. 15, was massive, measuring about 275 feet wide and covering about 325 feet of the highway. It broke a water main and, after trucking potable water in, Clallam County Public Utility District crews created a bypass to ensure water service in Clallam Bay.

On Sunday, more debris extended the slide another 200 feet across the roadway, said Stefanie Randolph, state Department of Transportation (DOT) Olympic region communications manager in a blog post Wednesday.

“While our crews worked around the clock to reopen as many roadways as possible — pulling crews from Aberdeen and Port Orchard to help — state (Highway) 112 remains closed, and because it will require some extensive repairs, it could be a while before it fully reopens,” Randolph said.

“In short, it’s a really big slide, and still active and potentially dangerous area.”

Geologists with DOT continue to monitor the slide, but until the hillside is stable, crews are unable to safely go in and begin clearing debris and starting repairs, Randolph said.

DOT officials are working to design a safe repair plan and hire an emergency contractor.

“We don’t have a timeline yet for all of this as it’s dependent on the site stabilizing enough for crews to move in,” she said.

DOT crews have established a temporary bypass route around the slide between Clallam Bay and Sekiu for local traffic, using a private two-lane road that is limited to one-lane alternating traffic in one portion.

Delays are expected on the bypass road today as crews finish maintenance on that road. Signs are in the area to help drivers navigate, Rudolph said.

State Highway 112 at milepost 32 east of the intersection with state Highway 113 continues to be closed due to damage caused by the Nov. 15 storm that lowered the road 2 feet, Rudolph said.

Emergency water pipe

The emergency repair water pipe that the PUD installed near the Clallam Bay slide is still intact, allowing running water access to continue to the area, said Nicole Hartman, communications manager.

However, that pipe could be damaged if the slide continues to grow.

“So far it’s been holding,” Hartman said. “Our crews had incorporated some slack in the bypass line to account for movement, but, yes, this can impact us.

“We are currently evaluating options to better secure the bypass, and options for backup plans as well.”

The temporary bypass is built in a way to allow officials to remove it easily for crews to work on clearing the roadway.

The Clallam Bay water reservoir holds about three days of water, so if the officials do need to remove the bypass temporarily for a day at a time for repairs, there won’t be an impact on customers, Hartman said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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