No quick fix at Illahee Road washout site

The in basket: Bryan Garinger says, “I am wondering what is going on with the Illahee version of the Grand Canyon located on Illahee Road past Varsity Lane? The last I heard from the county road crew is they are waiting for permits from the state. It is now just about five months since the damage was done with a promise by everyone including the governor to get this fixed within six months.
“I’m hearing rumors it might actually be over a year before it’s fixed. Why can’t this get expedited so that the residents living along Illahee Road can get back to normal?” Bryan asked.
The out basket: After I last wrote about this on Feb. 29, I heard from Gary Natter and Kelly and Randy Ham, who wanted me to know that it’s not just those on the south side of the washout who must travel miles out of their way to get where they want to go.
The Ham’s tend the young children of daughter Jamie, and they live on opposite sides of the washout.
“What used to be a four-minute drive now takes about half an hour,” said another daughter, Kaitlyn.
Though Gary says his trip to work at Rolling Hills Golf Course has grown from five minutes to 15, his biggest concern, he said, is the extra time it will take fire and rescue vehicles to reach them now that the North Perry station has lost its direct access to north of the washout.
The county updated the work to repair the slide April 30, but the latest news on its Web site ( suggests that the “over a year” rumor Bryan cites is a possibility.
The design of the repair remains at 70 percent complete, as it was in a March 31 update, evidently stopped while permits are awaited.
The county also has determined the county needs to acquire two pieces of right of way. One parcel is already owned by the county’s storm water management division, but the other, 1,164 square feet, is in private hands.
“How long the process takes has a lot do with the property owner’s response, availability, and acceptance of an offer from the county,” said Tina Nelson of the county engineering staff.
The owner knows of the county’s need for the property. If negotiations are trouble-free, the county could make an offer in May. If not, and a separate appraisal is needed, it could by three or four months before the county can even make its offer. But there is a legal process, called a Possession and Use Agreement, that could allow the county to use the 1,164 feet before a final dollar figure to acquire it is known and accepted.
The March 31 updates says, “There are several permits required for this project, being that we will be working in what is considered a fish-bearing stream….
“Some permits are contingent on each other, and it all starts with the SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) process. We are also required to follow NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) to receive our grant funding from (the Federal Highway Administration.)
SEPA is complete, the update says. The county needs a hydraulic permit from the state and upon getting that “we will submit to the Corps of Engineers for a nationwide permit. We anticipate this to happen in May.”
“As you can tell, there are several items that are not in our control as to when they will happen,” Tina said. “We are doing what we can to stay on top of our parts to get this project under construction as soon as possible. We have received notification that we are eligible for reimbursement from (Federal Highway Administration) at 86.5 per cent of the costs.”

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