There is big trouble on Little Hanaford and Garrard Creek roads: enough for Lewis County to declare the two roads in a state of emergency to expedite the public works process.
Thanks to the declarations, Lewis County Public Works will be able to begin work on both roads soon with the hopes of finishing the projects this summer.
A state of emergency is defined by the county as something posing an imminent threat to public health, safety or the environment that requires immediate action.
Little Hanaford runs beside China Creek east of Centralia as it enters the city. After flooding in January, what started as a small divot in the road quickly turned into a crack big enough to shut down one lane near the intersection of Salzer Valley Road.
In January, the crack was about 150 feet long and at least a foot deep. Since, it has only continued to slide out. Under the part of the road that is cracked, there is also a City of Centralia waterline that, if broken, would shut off water to the valley.
“The cracks have been growing and it appears to me that there is also some slumping taking place,” said Little Hanaford resident Erik Dahl on Wednesday. “It is only a matter of time before the one remaining lane collapses and I am very relieved to hear that a state of emergency has been declared by the county. … There is really no other road in and out for all the residents of the valley except a logging road and I have no idea where it goes or what condition it is in for passenger cars.”
Dahl added he is very grateful the county is taking immediate action and hopes Public Works can “cut through the red tape” to get repairs done as quickly as possible.
Between the waterline and accessibility for residents, Public Works Director Josh Metcalf on Tuesday said, “There is an immediate need to get that taken care of.”
For Garrard Creek Road, there is a similar problem, but it is less obvious.
The road is in the northwesternmost lip of Lewis County near the borders of Grays Harbor and Thurston counties. Independence Creek runs alongside it and under it before entering the Independence Valley and emptying into the Chehalis River.
After a series of winter storms and floods ripped through the valley over the last year, Independence Creek was redirected by an in-stream log. It has since been scouring the adjacent roadway.
“We need to get in there this season and try to mitigate any additional damage as well as prevent catastrophic failure of our roadway,” Metcalf said. “This project is being declared an emergency so we can get in there within the fish window of this summer.”
After a question from Commissioner Lee Grose, Metcalf clarified the damage was not occurring on the area where a bridge carries Garrard Creek Road over Independence Creek, rather, the significant erosion is affecting the road itself.
The scouring is located between mile markers 2.75 and 2.87.