Department lifts weight restriction on Valley highway

SNOQUALMIE - After conducting numerous soil tests, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced last week that it would lift the 16-ton weight restriction on State Route 202 between Snoqualmie and Fall City.

WSDOT geological engineers determined that the hillside is stable enough to accommodate traffic in both directions, without the weight restriction. The restriction was lifted last Thursday.

The weight restriction had been in effect since a portion of highway suffered damage in the Nisqually Earthquake Feb. 28. The restriction prohibited vehicles over 16 tons from traveling that section of SR 202 to prevent further damage to the roadway. The weight restriction was in effect between Tokul Road Southeast, near Snoqualmie Falls, and Southeast Fish Hatchery Road. Regular monitoring will continue, and if unstable conditions are detected the restriction could be reinstated at any time.

Inspections immediately after the quake revealed significant damage to a 1,000-foot section of roadway near the Falls that included a longitudinal crack in the center of the road that extended over 900 feet. This area was already under close scrutiny by maintenance crews because of an ongoing minor landslide slowly encroaching on the roadway.

WSDOT is currently designing a permanent repair project to secure the hillside and prevent further movement of material into the adjacent creek below. The current repair proposal includes stabilizing the hillside from the bottom using a rock buttress wall. WSDOT will work with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to make improvements to Tokul Creek below the slide. The repair project is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2002.

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