Highway 530 will be back up to speed Monday, if not sooner

OSO — Crews hope to have Highway 530 open at full speed in both directions by Monday morning, exactly six months after the Oso mudslide killed 43 people and buried the road between Arlington and Darrington.

Construction is weeks ahead of schedule. Contractors built a new roadway through the slide area, a project that originally was scheduled to wrap up in early October.

The new road is elevated up to 20 feet in some places because the area is especially vulnerable to flooding after the mudslide changed the landscape, according to the state Department of Transportation. The project is paid for by $28 million in federal emergency relief funds.

The road opened to alternating one-way trips May 31, then to 25 mph two-way traffic June 20. The speed should be back up to 50 mph Monday, or sooner if it’s not too rainy, WSDOT spokesperson Travis Phelps said.

Above, a drive along Highway 530 during cleanup efforts in July.

Work is expected to continue alongside the highway for several weeks. Crews still need to reinforce sloped terrain bordering the new road, restore nearby wetlands and do landscaping. Drivers can expect occasional delays as trucks maneuver in and out of the work area.

“You’ll still see us out there,” Phelps said. “There could be some delays, but nothing as substantial as what we’ve seen.”

People can walk along the new road during a community event next Saturday.

Families and survivors are invited to plant 43 trees in honor of those who died in the mudslide. The planting is private, followed by a public walk on the highway to see the grove. The walk starts at about 10:15 a.m.

Officials plan to detour traffic to the Seattle City Light Access Road from 7:30 a.m. to noon for the event. People can park at the Darrington Rodeo Grounds or Oso Fire Station to be shuttled to the new highway.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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