Underground street woes lead to sealed water main, closed road in Snoqualmie

Tilted bollards and big cracks show where an aging road base caused a water main to burst last week in Snoqualmie
Tilted bollards and big cracks show where an aging road base caused a water main to burst last week in Snoqualmie's Park Avenue neighborhood, closing the road by the Snoqualmie River.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

The approaching pickup slowed, halted, then backed straight up. There was no getting past the multiple 'road closed' signs at the corner of Park Avenue and River Street. A patch of gravel and deep cracks in the pavement showed why.

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, problems first started showing up on this corner of the downtown street, which sits on a bank of the Snoqualmie River. Mike Roy, operations manager for the city of Snoqualmie, said an eight-inch water main came apart that day. Public works crews cut the line, which had looped through the neighborhood, and capped its ends. Residents on River and Park are still getting water, but the city will eventually want to reconnect the lines. Looped mains perform better, Roy says.

Below the pavement, the aging sub-base of the road is in poor shape.

"Most of the subgrades, the road bases, are not engineered material," Roy told the Record. "It was years of gravel roads, and they were paved one day."

Over decades, the subgrade shifts, changes and settles.

"It doesn't help when it goes underwater" during floods, Roy said.

As of press time, the road is closed until further notice.

"It's difficult, at this time of year when everything's so wet, to redo a road base," Roy said.

The river bank itself is in good shape, says Roy, fortified by large rocks and other debris. King County recently performed bank re-armoring a few hundred yards upstream.


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