Recovery of Washington Mudslide Area Turns to State Highway

On the one month anniversary of the mudside that wiped out much of Oso, Wash., President Obama came to tour the devastation. The death toll stands at 41, with two missing. Restoring the region's economic lifeline, state Route 530, is top priority.

2 minute read

April 24, 2014, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Martin Kaste visited the mudlslide site along the highway, speaking with residents, workers involved in recovery, and experts including David Montgomery, "a prominent geomorphologist at the University of Washington and author of books such as "The Rocks Don't Lie." Listen here, or read the transcript.

Kaste states that "(t)he state Department of Transportation says the road will take months to clear, and maybe longer to rebuild," affecting the town of Darrington the hardest. "People there have been cut off from jobs and family, unless they spend hours on a roundabout route."

"A 35-minute commute up valley from Arlington to Darrington is now a two hour-plus drive up and around through the Skagit and Sauk River valleys," according to the Seattle PI.

What's striking is that unlike in other areas hit by landslides or other natural calamities, there does not appear to be the willingness to rebuild that is often seen elsewhere, such as disaster-prone areas in southern California where residents have said the "risk is worth it". Resident David Hall explains his thoughts to Kaste:

I think everybody would like to see some kind of memorial there, from what I've heard. And as far as building there, everyone's saying no way, you know. We shouldn't have been allowed to build there in the first place.

Kaste states that officials will investigate why housing was built there when the location has a history of landslides as recent as 2006. Montgomery, the geomorphologist, has doubts. "I don't think it's really fair to sort of second-guess whether or not people should have been able to see the potential for such a large slide at this site," he states.

I never imagined that the hillside on the far side of the valley could actually come across and wipe out the highway in under a couple of minutes. That never crossed my mind, as a geologist going up and down that slope.

"Oso is a chance for geologist to learn more about big slides," he adds.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 in NPR

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25 - Wired

Front of an Spanish style bungalow with striped window awnings and a tree and yard landscaped with cacti.

‘Culinary Hubs’ Turn Homes Into Micro-Restaurants

Real estate developers around the country are converting old single-family homes into “culinary hubs,” reports The New York Times.

February 25 - The New York Times

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25 - Fox 59

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.