For the third time in six weeks, landslides blocked traffic on Puyallup’s East Pioneer Way this weekend. Now the city is asking experts how to halt the potentially dangerous earth movements.
On Monday, earthmovers loaded buckets of soupy soil and debris into dump trucks to be removed from the site in the 3400 block of East Pioneer Way. The road was cleared by Monday afternoon, but Puyallup Public Works Director Rob Andreotti kept the road closed until Tuesday. The city has employed geotechnical experts to assess the hillside above for further landslide threats.
The affected part of Pioneer connects two major arterials, state Route 162 and Shaw Road.
The latest landslide happened Saturday. Previous slides occurred Feb. 9 and Feb. 16. This winter’s heavy rains have repeatedly soaked the steep hillside south of East Pioneer, causing the soil to slide onto the road at the bottom of the slope.
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The city plans to keep an eye on United States Geological Survey data that measure soil moisture saturation, said Andreotti. If the readings indicate the hillside is being overloaded with rainwater, the city may close the road again until water drains to prevent motorists from being hit by another landslide. No motorists were hit in this winter’s three slides.
If the problem persists, the city may have to create a more permanent fix to the landslide threat, Andreotti said. The city owns the right-of-way beside the road, but the hillside above is privately owned.
“We would work with the property owner,” said Andreotti, “to find a long-term solution.”
A mudslide closed Pioneer Way East on Thursday between Shaw Road East and state Route 162.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663