AGC Members are A Cut Above: Selland Project Wins National Award

New AGC member Selland Construction of Wenatchee helped WSDOT mitigate 2009’s massive landslide that buried part of SR 410. Last week the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recognized the project with an “America’s Transportation Award” in the Innovative Management category.

On Oct. 11 2009 a massive landslide destroyed a half-mile of SR 410 west of Yakima blocking and uplifting the adjacent Naches River and flooding the parallel Nile Loop county road. Fortunately no one was injured by the movement of millions of cubic yards of rock and soil but life will be forever changed for the estimated 600 residences and businesses west of the slide as well as travelers on SR 410.

(Note: As reminder of what WSDOT and Selland were dealing with click landslide photos.)

SR 410 connects central Washington to western Washington via the 5430- foot Chinook Pass 38 miles west of the slide. Due to heavy winter snows and high avalanche danger WSDOT closes Chinook Pass every winter typically by late November. The pass remains closed until Memorial Day effectively leaving the only access from SR 410 to employment schools and retail to the east.

Immediately after the landslide the diverted Naches River flooded residences and the Nile Loop Road cutting off the only remaining easterly access. WSDOT used innovative management in collaboration with Yakima County which has jurisdiction over the river to acquire needed properties re-channel the river away from the landslide toe monitor for additional landslide movement and design and construct a 4000-foot detour road that would withstand projected winter flooding. The state needed to ensure winter access for the residences and businesses that would soon to be shut off from the west. Six days after the landslide Governor Chris Gregoire visited the site and committed to opening the detour route by Thanksgiving a 45-day rush timeline.

WSDOT and Selland Construction worked 14 hours a day seven days a week to construct a new river channel and detour while WSDOT environmental experts coordinated with resource agencies to ensure the agency mitigated and/or minimized long term impacts. On November 24 the day before the promised target WSDOT opened the detour to traffic.

WSDOT’s post-project safety report noted that Selland’s employee worked in excess of 25000 hours in just over 50 days of work with most working 14-16 hours days seven days a week. In many cases employees worked in excess of 30 days straight. Plus at a peak Selland had 87 pieces of equipment on site. Nevertheless no injuries or equipment damage occurred.

“It’s quite a major accomplishment to rebuild a roadway like this in a just over a month” WSDOT Regional Administrator Don Whitehouse said at the time of the road opening. “We could have never done this without the cooperation of landowners our agency partners and our contractor Selland Construction Inc.”

Describing the America’s Transportation Awards AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley said “State departments of transportation are completing projects faster and for less money. They are working hard to fix roads and keep people moving but this hard work often gets overlooked. These awards are really about showcasing the best projects these states have completed and recognizing them for their determination and innovation.”