US Highway 12 Stays Closed Another Night While Crews Assess Damage - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

US Highway 12 Stays Closed Another Night While Crews Assess Damage

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WHITE PASS, WA--The State Department of Transportation said it won't be an easy fix, and the 50 mile stretch of US-12 washed out by rain Tuesday remains closed indefinitely.

A team of geotechnical engineers works carefully to assess the damage three miles east of the White Pass Summit.

"We did have a lot of materials move down that hillside, and they're going to help us determine whether it's stable enough to try to get one lane of traffic in and that would be our goal at this point," said Don Whitehouse, the South Central Regional Administrator for the Department of Transportation.

The Department of Transportation said they're hoping to open at least one lane in the next couple of days. Something that business owners appreciate since the lack of freight traffic has hurt sales.

"Business slowed down quite a bit," said Richard Holt, the Owner of Laredo Drive-In in Naches. "I'm sure it has for a lot of people around here."

Travelers like Carol Kerrigan said alternate routes like State Route 410 through Chinook Pass take longer, but said she understands the importance of keeping the road closed for safety.

"It was inconvenient, but we're under no time constraints actually," said Kerrigan. "So I thought the state was very helpful."

"We're fighting a timeline here to get traffic back on White Pass because everyone knows that Chinook Pass closes in the wintertime because of the avalanche hazards," said Whitehouse. "So we're going to be working around the clock to try to get this restored."

The Department of Transportation wants to remind people that commercial traffic is not allowed on alternate routes like State Route 410 and State Route 123.

The Department also said they submitted a Declaration of Emergency so they can be eligible for federal funds during repairs. Fixing the damage could cost up to three quarters of a million dollars.