News, Timber, Transportation

Construction to repair closed Timber Road may be ‘up to two years’ away

Timber Road, closed since March 6 thanks to a portion of the road between Glenwood and Timber crumbling due to a slow-moving landslide, may not see construction begin on a fix for two more years.

“We believe the needed repairs will be extensive and costly,” said Todd Watkins, Manager, Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation Operations and Maintenance Division in response to emailed questions from the Banks Post. “Between the geotechnical evaluation, designing a solution and seeking funding, we estimate that it could be up to two years before we can begin construction on a repair. Due to the severity of the slide, an interim repair may not be possible.”

Timber Road connects Timber to the Glenwood and Gales Creek communities on Highway 6 to the south and the Timber Junction on Highway 26 to the north.

With the road closed in the middle, residents may have to travel an extra 10 or 15 minutes to Forest Grove, an extra 20 minutes to Gales Creek, or an extra 25 minutes to Tillamook.

“We understand the challenges this closure presents to those who live, work and travel through the Timber community,” Watkins said. “Our goal is to complete a repair that will make Timber Road more resilient for years to come.”

A contractor for the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation is undertaking a geotechnical evaluation of the landslide site, located near the S curves north of Strassel Road.

The process involves boring into the ground to find out how deep the landslide movement is. Soil samples will inform the county about the properties of the soil and groundwater, said Washington County LUT spokesperson Melissa De Lyser.

“This information will help us decide what kind of repair will work,” De Lyser said.

That evaluation is expected to be completed in September 2023.

In March, the county disclosed that the landslide was detected on the edge of the road in January this year “when cracks appeared in the pavement north of the S curves about halfway between Highways 26 and 6,” the county wrote in their press release.

Warning signs were put in place, with staff monitoring the site regularly.

The county said in March that movement on the slide recently increased, and could cause significant damage if the movement continues to intensify.

“Slow-moving landslides can creep gradually and remain relatively stable until they increase in intensity or a large-scale landslide is triggered,” the county noted.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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