WASHOUGAL, Wash. (KOIN) — An overnight landslide forced the closure of Washougal River Road near mile post 4 Friday morning — creating a potential problem as more rain is expected in the coming days.
Officials said the closure is also due to an unstable hillside.
Engineering supervisor with Clark County Public Works Ken Lader said, “We had some rock that’s come down off the upper bank of the road.”
Public works crews have been able to clear most of the rock and debris from the street as of Friday morning, but up at the top of the landslide is a separate issue — the ground beneath the trees may no longer be stable, especially with a lot more rain predicted through the weekend.
“They are creating an overburden that we’re a little bit concerned about, so we’ve got some people coming out to do an assessment,” Lader said.
A geotechnical engineer will determine if the slide has stabilized, and if so, then they’ll have the go ahead to reopen the road.
While the slide itself was relatively small, it could be a sign of things to come.
The public information officer for Clark County Department of Public Works Jeff Mize said, “Landslides are notoriously unpredictable. We just don’t know when they’re going to occur. We’re hoping this is going to be the only landslide we’re going to get this year, but it’s early in the year.”
Since people cannot predict landslides, it’s extremely important that the public is on the lookout for potential landslides — and once they’re reported, people should take the threat seriously.
“When we put up road closure signs, they’re there for a reason — it’s to protect the public and people should never, ever move a road closure sign, bypass the sign, drive around it, ignore it, whatever,” Mize said.
However, KOIN 6 News witnessed multiple vehicles ignore the closure signs Friday morning — something that’s both a safety hazard and against the law.
Later Friday, officials confirmed the section of Washougal River Road would remain closed through the weekend.