SR 530 near Oso reopens to traffic May 31

Construction crews work to get State Route 530 ready to be reopened May 31. - Kirk Boxleitner
Construction crews work to get State Route 530 ready to be reopened May 31.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

OSO — Following a moment of silence at noon Saturday, May 31, State Route 530 will reopen to traffic, re-establishing a link between Arlington, Oso and Darrington. The highway was closed for more than two months, while crews worked to clear a slide that covered a mile of the rural corridor.

"Our mission was to reconnect communities who have already lost so much, and do it in a respectful manner," Washington State Department of Transportation Regional Administrator Lorena Eng said. "This would not have been possible without the help of dedicated staff from both WSDOT and our contractors."

Contractor crews from IMCO Construction worked around the clock to remove roughly 90,000 cubic yards of material that blanketed the highway March 22. Crews are able to reopen the road a week earlier than planned, and at least $1.5 million under the original contract amount of $4.9 million.

"We are all heavy-hearted to be involved in the disaster that is the SR 530 slide," said Tyler Kimberley, president of IMCO Construction. "Witnessing the devastation, and working side by side with the grieving communities, has been life-changing."

Environmental Science Associates implemented the material-removal plan crafted by WSDOT and Snohomish County, ensuring any items uncovered were handled respectfully. Many of those hired by ESA were from local communities, and had assisted during search and recovery operations.

Granite Construction was hired to pilot traffic to and from Darrington around the clock, along the Seattle City Light access road. With a set schedule for travel in both directions, Granite provided an alternative to a long detour around the closed portion of SR 530, that added hours to commutes.

There will not be enough room to safely allow two lanes of traffic on SR 530 when it reopens, so drivers will continue to be piloted eastbound and westbound. However, there will be no prescribed schedule. Flaggers will alternate directions based on demand. The speed limit will be 25 miles per hour. Gravel covers about 600 feet of the road, in a section that was discovered to be missing when slide material was removed.

WSDOT has awarded the design/build contract to Guy F. Atkinson Construction, in the amount of $20.57 million, to construct a new portion of SR 530 through the slide area. Due to the flood risk resulting from the slide, and the geographic changes to the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, the roadway must be elevated.

Traffic will return to the Seattle City Light access road periodically during construction.

WSDOT and the design/build contractor will host a community meeting in mid-June.

The Federal Highway Administration's emergency relief funds will cover the entire cost of the reconstruction project. Substantial completion of the new alignment is expected in early October.

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