Access road gives residents route to Darrington, Oso

OSO — The state is opening a two-mile-long access road near Highway 530 that will bypass the debris pile that has blocked the road since the March 22 mudslide.

The access road opens Monday, April 28, at midnight and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said state Department of Transportation spokesman Travis Phelps.

The single-lane access road will be limited to residents of Darrington and Oso, and those who need to get past the slide in order to work.

Trucks, including logging trucks, will be able to use the road between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The unpaved utility road is narrow and steep, with grades as much as 16 percent in some places. The speed limit will be set at 10 miles per hour, with no stopping permitted.

All traffic will be led through by a pilot car on a fixed schedule: Westbound toward Arlington at the top of the hour, eastbound toward Darrington at the bottom of the hour.

Right now, determining who can get through will be handled on the honor system, Phelps said, but it is important to realize that this access road is for Darrington and Oso.

“This is their lifeline, this is the access they need,” Phelps said.

Those who aren’t local should help the locals by continuing to take Highway 20 and not overburden the access road, he said.

Because this is new, there will likely be some delays, Phelps said.

“Think of it as a ferry. You want to get there early and see what traffic’s doing,” he said.

The access road will be in use at least until the state can reopen a lane of Highway 530.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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