State Department of Transportation officials are gearing up to make short- and long-term repairs to a section of U.S. Highway 101 about a mile-and-a-half southeast of Cosmopolis after portions of the road sunk several inches during heavy rain last week.
The section of highway near milepost 79 was already under minor construction, with orange southbound signs indicating a rough road ahead, a closed shoulder and bumps. Cracks in the asphalt had occurred along the portions of rough pavement.
Cara Mitchell, a department spokeswoman, said the landslide-prone stretch of highway undergoes maintenance every winter. A crew returned to the area late last week to level the stretch of sunken road with gravel and install signs indicating a reduced speed limit from 50 to 25 mph.
Mitchell said the department is working toward a long-term fix, and that slope-monitoring devices will soon be installed in the area to record data that will help aid the planning and design of a permanent solution.
The money to fund that solution — about $1.7 million — has been identified, Mitchell said, in federal funding slated for the 2019-2021 biennium. The project could, however, become more or less of a priority depending on what the monitoring system finds, she added.
State Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, who surveyed the damage last week, said the highway’s landslide issues have long been on his radar, pointing to recent repairs to Rock Crusher Hill near Artic and slides on Cosi Hill over past decades.
“There are engineering fixes,” Blake said. “The question is which one’s right for this one and what’s it going to cost?”