- Posted May 20, 2014 by
Narrow Gravel Road Now a Car Ferry Around Oso, Wa. Mudslide
Major "bypass surgery" was recently performed to upgrade and open a remote, three-mile stretch of one-way service road in Oso, Washington to local commuters. The Washington State Department of Transportation improved the narrow gravel roadway, a Seattle City Light access road, to allow local commuters to drive around a closed-off stretch of highway damaged and buried by the tragic March 22 mudslide there that claimed over 40 lives.
Some area residents are calling the bypass a "land ferry" as cars and logging trucks line up hourly before getting waved on by an orange flag to proceed at 10 mph as a line of vehicles wait their turn from the opposite side. The term is especially fitting considering many Seattle-area residents commute to and from work on water ferries.
Until the bypass opened, frustrated commuters, many who lost loved ones, were forced to take a stressful and gas-guzzling two-hour mountainous detour to reach their jobs and friends on the other side of the closed highway that would otherwise take as little as 15 minutes to reach, if they were heading for neighboring Arlington or Darrington.
Snowcapped mountain peaks, evergreen forests, salmon-filled streams and lakes converge in this area, about 50 miles north of Seattle and a mere 25 miles from Puget Sound pleasure-boaters. Sadly, the square-mile graveyard of mounds and mounds of dirt still covering Route 530 seems to overwhelm the area's otherwise natural beauty.
Anxious state politicians and their hired road crews are racing to reopen Route 530 by October. However, local community groups are asking them to slow down those bulldozers to allow for a more tasteful and appropriate excavation should the remains of loved ones become uncovered and disrupted.
Photos by Steve Shay using screen captures from a GoPro
on video mode as vehicles are not allowed to stop. The last photo in this slideshow was taken at the Mountain Loop Country Store, Darrington.