Maintenance supervisor spots rockslide before it happens

It’s one of the biggest rockslides to happen on Chuckanut Drive (SR 11) in the last decade. Fortunately no one was injured or hurt when several hundred yards of rock crashed onto the roadway Monday, Nov. 10. Some of the rocks were as big as small cars.

Chuckanut rockslide - Nov. 10, 2008; P1070011

The fact that nobody was hurt had a lot to do with the decision of Area 1 maintenance supervisor Ric Willand and his team to close road and prevent drivers and crews from passing beneath the unstable hillside.

Willand was on his way to inspect an earlier slide when he found a few rocks in the road at milepost 13.3. While it’s not uncommon to find rocks all along Chuckanut Drive, it is uncommon to spot a rockslide before it happens.

While Willand was stopped at the spot, several more rocks fell onto the road. None of them were big enough to close the road. But when Willand looked more closely at the hillside, he noticed that cracks were starting to form in some of the larger rocks and that the hillside appeared to be moving.

By the next day, Willand and his team had decided to close the road. Shortly after the road was closed, guess what happened? The hillside belched and rocks spilled across the road, blocking all lanes.

Chuckanut rockslide - Nov. 10, 2008; P1070018

As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and in this case, the decision to close the road was right on. The decision may have saved someone from serious injuries or death.

For more pictures of the slide, visit our Flickr picture account.

Read our news release for more details about the slide and how long it will take to stabilize the hillside.