On Monday, April 5, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) began an emergency rock fall repair project on State Route 14 in the Sweeney Curves area east of Stevenson.
The project will repair an unstable section of rock face on the north side of the highway near milepost 47 where a significant crack has developed.
Work will occur from 8:30 a.m. to dusk daily through April 20, which may include some weekends. During this time, motorists should expect single lane closures with flaggers and up to 15-minute delays, plus several 20-minute long full closures of the highway mainly during the first week of work.
During this time, the crew will physically knock away all the unstable rock around the crack. The full closures are necessary so that falling rocks don't strike passing vehicles. Emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, etc.) will be allowed to pass through the closure area.
Once the loose rock is knocked off and hauled away, the crew will install 25 ten-foot long steel rods horizontally into the rock face to stabilize the area and spray reinforced concrete onto the lower half of the rock face near the ground to help prevent further deterioration.
Finally, crews will stain the concrete and the ends of the rods to match the color of the rock around it.
This particular location didn't have any rock fall problems until January 2004. After the snow and ice storms that month, WSDOT's Bingen maintenance crew reported three rockslides at the location that sent debris across both lanes of State Route 14.
After the maintenance office reported the crack on March 17, a state geologist was sent out to evaluate the situation. On March 26, the geologist recommended that immediate corrective action be taken to prevent further potentially serious rock falls.
On March 31, an emergency repair project was approved and a contractor was hired on April 2.