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

Elochoman road closure may be lifted in October


September 13, 2018

Wahkiakum County commissioners plan to re-open the Elochoman Valley Road, probably in early October.

Commissioners were ready Tuesday to open the road--closed last winter near milepost 7 because of potential landslide, but a request from Hancock Forest Management led to a delay.

During a winter wet spell, area residents heard trees snapping on the hillside above their house, and when they investigated, they found signs of a landslide. They contacted Hancock, the landowner, and further investigation revealed the start of a major landslide with the potential to demolish two houses and cover the county road.

Commissioners closed the road for public safety reasons, with the intention of opening it as soon as the area was deemed safe. County road department personnel were ready to open the road, and they put the issue on the commission's Tuesday agenda for action.

However, Dave Boyd, Columbia River Region manager for Hancock, asked the commission to hold off a few weeks.

"We have a procedure in place to increase public safety," he said. "That should be done in three weeks."

Boyd said he didn't know the details of what company engineers had planned.

County Engineer Paul Lacy told the commission he felt the closure could be lifted, but he was okay with a three-week delay.

The county should be certain the road is safe before lifting the closure, Commissioner Mike Backman said.

"We want to make sure we use our own analysis," Backman said.

"We've looked at their geotech report," he said. "My professional opinion is that it (the slide) is no less safe than other slides are in the county."

Commissioner Dan Cothren, who has pushed for lifting the closure, said the three-week delay wouldn't cause a great inconvenience to hunters, for the firearm deer season opens in mid-October.

"I think we should give them (Hancock) time," he said.

The board took no action; they'll address the issue at a later date.


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