UPDATE: March 17-18, 2017
Rob Sweigard reported late on Friday that WSDOT crews were down to the last 100 yards of material to clear form the rockslide area on SR 971. The road re-opened briefly on Friday around 6 p.m. Crews will close the road again starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 18 for a few hours on Saturday to finish some work.
Thank you to WSDOT’s Jeff Adamson, Rob Sweigard and the entire WSDOT crew for taking safety precautions, working to get the rockslide debris removed, and keeping us updated throughout the process.
UPDATE: March 16, 2017 – Afternoon
2nd UPDATE March 16: New boulders discovered under rockslide debris, SR 971 now estimated to re-open sometime on Saturday
South Shore residents may have to remain patient until Saturday, March 18, for a re-opening of SR 971. Rob Sweigard of WSDOT has been working with crews to remove debris from the rockslide that covered the roadway last week.
Some blasting of large boulders occurred on Wednesday morning. As crews have been able to clear more debris today, more large boulders have been discovered underneath.
“We are making good progress and have uncovered more large rocks to blast,” Sweigard said in an update this afternoon. “You will hear that in the morning [Friday, March 17].”
He now estimates Saturday, March 18, 2017, for a full opening of SR 971 along the South Shore of Lake Chelan.
UPDATE: March 16, 2017 – Morning
SR 971 may reopen late Friday afternoon as crews continue to remove rockslide debris
Jeff Adamson of WSDOT gave an update today as to the status of the rockslide on SR 971 along the South Shore of Lake Chelan.
Tuesday’s plan to break up the boulders was postponed by the avalanche control work on Stevens Pass and a change in the type and method of explosion made by WSDOT HQ GeoTech Engineers. Tuesday was also rainy, and a loader broke down so worked was postponed for a day.
On Wednesday, the avalanche crew, as anyone around the Lake Chelan area heard, was busy drilling and blasting several boulders into rocks small enough to transport.
Today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) will spent clearing the rocks and debris. Adamson said that barring weather, personnel or equipment issues, the target is to have the road open to traffic by late Friday afternoon. Further pavement repairs, striping and other work will be completed when the area has dried out.
UPDATE: March 14, 2017 – 2 p.m.
Rob Sweigard of WSDOT reports that equipment is repaired. WSDOT crews will resume work to clear the rockslide area on SR 971 on Wednesday morning. There will be some blasting occurring between 8 – 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15. Cleanup will continue after that.
UPDATE: March 14, 2017 – morning
According to Rob Sweigard of WSDOT, workers will NOT be working at the rockslide site today (Tuesday) due to some equipment breakdown as well as the heavy rain. Crews hope to resume work tomorrow (Wednesday).
UPDATE: March 13, 2017 – Crews begin to remove rockslide debris on SR 971, blasting to take place this week
The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) provided an update on Monday, March 13 regarding the work to evaluate and remove rockslide debris currently covering SR 971 along the South Shore of Lake Chelan.
WSDOT crews have begun removing debris from a rockslide that occurred on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at approximately 5:30 p.m. completely blocking SR 971, also known as South Lakeshore Road about five miles west of Chelan. The road has been closed since Wednesday evening between milepost 9 and milepost 11. The slide occurred at around milepost 10.5.
According to WSDOT’s North Central Region Communications Director Jeff Adamson, approximately 5,000 cubic yards of material came down in the slide. As a result of a geotech evaluation of the hillside last week, WSDOT brought in a contractor this past weekend to work on scaling loose debris from the upper hillside in order to make the area safe for WSDOT workers to begin removing material. Adamson said that the scaling work was done on Saturday and Sunday “until the slope was declared suitably safe.”
WSDOT crews began their work at removing debris on Monday morning, and an avalanche crew is being sent to the slide to evaluate several large boulders that will have to be blasted apart before crews can remove them. Adamson said that at least six very large boulders have already been identified. The avalanche crew will be back in Chelan on Tuesday morning to begin the task of blasting these boulders.
For some advance notice to residents in the Lake Chelan Valley, Rob Sweigart of WSDOT said, “Blasting will take place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday.” He explained that these blasts will be quite loud and that residents will hear them throughout the valley.
WSDOT officials do not have an estimated re-opening time of SR 971 yet. GoLakeChelan.com will continue to report updates as we receive them.
(By Christine Eagar)