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Flood closes section of Blue Slide Road

 

Sherry Hagerman-Benton

ROAD CLOSED - A portion of Blue Slide Road will be closed until further notice after a creek flooded and washed out part of the road.

A portion of Blue Slide Road west of Thompson Falls will remain closed until further notice after Cougar Creek flooded and washed out part of the roadway over the weekend.

"We're looking at months, not weeks," of the road being closed, said Shane Stack with MDT. Representatives from the agency visited the site and assessed the situation, and are now reviewing options to address the issue.

"It's high on our priority list" of projects, said Bob Vosen with the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). "We're aware it's a road closure situation. It's a large-scale issue. When you first see it, you can't tell anything is wrong with the road. But four feet of asphalt is hanging with nothing supporting it. It's an unsafe situation."

Snowmelt caused the creek (near the actual blue slide about 9 miles from Thompson Falls) to rush down the mountainside, carrying with it rocks, dirt and gravel. The rush of water and debris flooded the roadway, pulling with it dirt from under the road. The flood exposed the guardrail and a portion of the culvert under the road as well.

MDT employees responded to the incident early Saturday morning and closed

the road. Some vehicles continued to drive past the cones placed at the site, and on Tuesday, MDT installed a more permanent cement barrier to prevent traffic from passing.

With the road closed, residents on Blue Slide Road west of the flooded area who are used to driving to Thompson Falls will have to take a detour through Trout Creek.

Sanders County Commissioner Tony Cox said that residents on Blue Slide Road should be prepared for a long process getting the road fixed. "It's steep and rocky and not an easy fix," Cox said. The portion of Blue Slide Road impacted is a state road, while the county is responsible for Blue Slide Road west to Trout Creek.

"Sometimes things happen," Cox said. "But it will get fixed. Just be patient."

The road closure also affects school routes for Mosher Transportation. The company alerted parents and made arrangements to pick up students in Trout Creek to transport them to Thompson Falls schools.

 

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