White Pass reopens after crews haul debris from mudslide

WHITE PASS, Wash. - Mother Nature is taking her wrath out on our roads - this time with rain swelling the ground, causing a mudslide on a section of U.S. 12 near White Pass.

The Washington State Department of Transportation reopened a 44-mile stretch of the highway after hauling away the debris.

Mother Nature speaks volumes again. Saturated grounds caused a mudslide near milepost 144 on Highway 12.

"This one was a little more severe than most because of the amount of material that came down and the timing," said WSDOT maintenance supervisor Chuck Laidler.

Crews removed more than 300 yards of rock, mud and debris from the mudslide. That's nearly the size of three football fields. A total group of 15 to 20 people helped clean up the mess.

"We had some tree stumps in it yesterday, so that concerned us a little bit," said Laidler.

DOT said it was concerning because debris was coming down at night, so they weren't able to see what was coming down the slope.

One of these trucks can hold ten yards of material. DOT has hauled out 30 to 40 truckloads because of this mudslide.

DOT said the area received about three inches of rain over the weekend. Cleanup costs come from the maintenance budget.

Some drivers waited more than an hour for the highway to reopen Sunday. Jerry Brindle said he knows crews have to work on making roads safe.

"I've seen a picture of it. It didn't look much of a mudslide to hold us all up, but guess they got to get it out of the way," said Jerry.

It was also an unusual sight in the White Pass ski area Sunday. The parking lots sat empty. The highway closure, along with weather, closed the ski resort's operations.

DOT said nearly 1,200 cars travel over White Pass daily.