Work on damaged Index-Galena route could begin in 2019

Most of the work is done, but a half a mile of the roadway is still under water.

INDEX — Work to repair a key route into the east Snohomish County wilderness could begin as soon as next year, more than a decade after the roadway was washed out in a flood.

Index-Galena Road could reopen in 2021, if all goes according to plan. Snohomish County officials last week said they’d secured the federal grants they need to move ahead.

“We are grateful that our congressional delegation supported this project, acknowledging its importance to the residents, businesses and recreational users from across the region,” County Executive Dave Somers said in a press release. “This funding will help restore access to thousands of acres of Wild Sky Wilderness and finally restore this important regional roadway.”

Election-day flooding in 2006 caused heavy damage along the road. Most sections have since been repaired, but not the stretch between mile post 6.4 and 6.9. Much of it remains underwater in the North Fork Skykomish River.

While half a mile of roadway is damaged, the rebuild involves a mile-long span, public works deputy director Doug McCormick said.

Engineers plan to move the road up the hillside, and farther away from the river, to better withstand flooding, project manager Larry Brewer said. It’s also being engineered to handle an area prone to rock slides.

When finished, the repaired road will connect a 14-mile corridor serving homes and campgrounds in the area. It will make it easier to reach parts of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, including the Wild Sky Wilderness.

“It’s going to restore a lot of year-round access to a lot of (U.S.) Forest Service land,” Brewer said.

The construction timeline spans three seasons in part because snow and rain limit the times when crews can work in the area. Salmon protections also restrict work near the water for much of the year.

The total budget for the project is $26.5 million, down slightly from earlier estimates.

The largest piece of funding is coming from the Federal Highway Administration. Other sources include county money, the Washington State County Road Administration Board and the Federal Land Access Program.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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