When dips appeared on Marsh Road where it curves between Seattle Hill Road and Highway 9 in April, one reader thought water was the culprit. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

When dips appeared on Marsh Road where it curves between Seattle Hill Road and Highway 9 in April, one reader thought water was the culprit. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Was rainy weather creating dips in the road?

A reader was curious what caused the depressions to form. She thought water undermined the pavement.

During this very rainy April, Joni Kirk noticed depressions forming on Marsh Road, which she travels often from Lake Stevens to her job in Mill Creek. Was the wet weather to blame?

“As of late, there are some severe dips in the roadway that have developed along Marsh Road as it curves between Seattle Hill Road and Highway 9. Signs have appeared about bumps and telling people to use caution. I am wondering if the road is being undermined by water. It seems like it has deteriorated rapidly this year,” she wrote to Street Smarts.

Even before the Snohomish County roads division could answer Kirk’s question, crews were out smoothing the pavement. The dips were patched in early May, according to Jim Parker, the road maintenance operations manager for the county.

How long the patches will last is not known, he said. They are meant only as a temporary solution as the county investigates the cause of the depressions.

“Road Maintenance is working with our geotechnical engineers to identify a long-term repair to the road. It is believed that the material the road was built on is causing the dips as it settles,” Parker wrote in an email.

“We believe that a layer of material beneath the road may have caused some settling to occur and allowed the dips in the road to develop. We have patched the dips to improve the ride for the vehicles, but we still need to determine what the underlying cause of the settling is to prevent more deformations of the roadway. Our geotechnical engineers will be drilling below the road to identify the subgrade material, but until they are able to do this work, we will not know what the material is.”

Following up with Kirk, she said the repair made a big difference.

“However, it was astounding how quickly those dips had developed this spring. They were pretty significant. So that still leaves me to wonder whether the water is undercutting the road or not,” she added.

Got a question? Email me at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com or call 425-374-4165. Please include your name and city of residence.

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