The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County reverses opening Elochoman Road

 


On Tuesday of last week, Wahkiakum County officials said they were going to open a gate closing the upper Elochoman Valley Road.

However, as The Eagle went to press on Wednesday, Public Works Director Chuck Beyer telephoned The Eagle’s office to say the road would not be opened. Last week’s print edition contained a story saying the road would be opened.

Commissioners Dan Cothren and Mike Backman held a special meeting Thursday afternoon to review the situation.

The road reopening was rescinded for a couple reasons, they said:

1. The road was closed by a formal resolution, and they didn't do a formal resolution to reopen it.

2. A private geotechnical consultant has informally told effected persons that the hillside is still very unstable and could slide at any time.

Officials closed the road several months ago after residents discovered a hillside above the road was in motion and posed the danger of a major landslide.

But last Tuesday, Beyer and County Engineer Paul Lacy said conditions had changed, and the road could be opened.

"We're not seeing any evidence that it's continuing to slide," Lacy said.

Cothren welcomed that announcement. He had supported the closure when the slide was detected but had asked that the closure end if conditions were safe.

He added that the timber company owning the land where the slide is found is waiting for an analysis from geologists.

"When that comes in, they'll share it with the county," Cothren said.

The road provides access to commercial timberland under harvest, and the public uses the route to access outdoor recreation and a spring just up the valley from the slide zone.

 

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