Rainier Avenue partially reopens after being closed due to landslides

by Ben Adlin

Editor’s note: This article is updated live as we receive new information on the evolving situation. ***Last update: 03/01/2022 at 3:45 p.m.

Rainier Avenue partially reopened on Tuesday afternoon, March 1, following two landslides caused by recent wet weather. Traffic had been halted since Monday in both directions along part of Seattle’s South Artery due to debris blocking the roadway and sidewalks.

There were no reported injuries or property damage related to the landslides, a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) representative said. emerald.

The first landslide occurred at 9600 Rainier Ave. S., near Chinook Beach Park, Monday afternoon. A second occurred just south of the first, near the Stonehouse Café.

“We had to close our restaurant because two-way traffic was cut off,” Stonehouse Café owner LeeAnn Subelbia said. emerald.

Subelbia said while it was unaware of any property damage or injuries caused by the landslides, the resulting road closure has already cost the cafe money.

SDOT said in a press release Tuesday morning that it was working “around the clock” to reopen the street. Because the ground can remain unstable after a landslide, the department has consulted with geologists to determine when it is safe to clear the debris and reopen the roadway.

Map illustrating the road closure on Rainier Avenue South due to a landslide. Map created by Ben Adlin.

Subelbia’s husband, Dan Bent, who visited the landslide near the cafe, said it appeared a tree that fell during one of the landslides had damaged a nearby retaining wall. “They’re not sure what the pressure is behind it, so they’re waiting for the engineers to come out and assess,” Bent said. “They’re going to have to fix that wall, I’m sure.”

SDOT has posted updates on the landslide-related closures on its Twitter account, @SDOTtraffic. Additional information on street closures across the city, including live camera feeds, is available on SDOT’s so-called Traveler Map. No cameras are in place along the affected portion of Rainier Avenue.

Washington’s February was particularly wet, and Monday’s storm was one of the wettest in decades, with parts of the region receiving more than 4 inches of rain in the past two days, data shows. of the National Weather Service.

Although the area receives frequent rainfall, heavy downpours increase the risk of landslides. In January, a landslide in a residential area of ​​Magnolia moved a house “15 to 20 feet from its foundation”, trapping a resident inside and igniting a propane fire.

Washington is one of the most landslide-prone states in the country, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Citing data from 1996, the ministry’s website says landslides kill around 25 to 50 people a year and cause damage estimated at $2 billion.

Ben Adlin is a journalist and editor who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives on Capitol Hill. He has covered Seattle and Los Angeles politics and legal affairs for the past decade and has been an Emerald Contributor since May 2020, writing about community and city news. Find him on Twitter at @badlin.

📸 Featured Image: Landslide near 9600 Rainier Ave. S., near Chinook Beach Park. Photos courtesy of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

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