EVERETT — Washington State Department of Transportation crews are still working to clear massive flood debris from underneath the U.S. 2 trestle, extending traffic delays at least one more day.
Heavy rains over the past week carried debris downstream toward the Puget Sound, causing a logjam under the trestle and forcing WSDOT to close the eastbound right lane on the highway while workers in boats, an excavator and crane hustled to prevent structural damage.
“I’m hoping we’ll finish up by sometime tomorrow,” WSDOT’s Northwest Region Operations and Maintenance Superintendent Ron Morton said Wednesday. “But there are so many moving pieces it’s hard to determine.”
Buildups like this usually happen each year, sometimes as many as four times, Morton said. The volume of debris is higher than usual though because there was no rain event like this in 2018. Tuesday’s floods carried a backlog of debris that’d been accumulating in the mountains for at least a year.
As the logs pile up, pressure on the trestle’s pillars increases which could lead to serious damage, Morton said.
Additionally, heavy fogs Tuesday night and Wednesday morning affected worker’s visibility and prolonged the cleanup project.
There are 10 to 15 workers on the job, dealing with debris ranging from twigs to logs as long as 50 feet. Adding more crews could lead to safety issues and injuries, Morton said.
“What we’re limited to is the amount of equipment we have and what makes sense,” he said.
In the meantime, WSDOT officials ask drivers to slow down around crews and give workers space.
For county resident and commuter John Ewald, “the trestle is a lifeline for the county.”
“The job of those guys on the bridge is critical,” he said.
With drier weather in the forecast, Morton said he doesn’t expect more debris to flow down to the site.