Yakima County closes down Thorp Road indefinitely due to landslide

Yakima County closes down Thorp Road indefinitely due to landslide.

UNION GAP, Wash. - On average, around 200 cars a day used Thorp Road to get to I-82 and the Lower Valley at least until the 8 million tons of rock started sliding toward it.

So closing the road is inconvenient for those drivers but Yakima County Engineer Gary Ekstedt said it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“It probably less inconvenient than being struck by a falling rock,” he said.

The road was closed at the beginning of the year in response to the emergency of the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide.

But with the slide moving at a much slower rate than anticipated, Ekstedt said they want to keep it closed until it's no longer a problem.

“It has a tendency to want to push material to the side which would create rock fall down onto thorp road which would create a public safety process,” he said.

The county has the right to officially close a road, but they must hold a public forum before doing so.

On Tuesday, Yakima County commissioners said they made sure that keeping the road shut down would not affect those living near the slide.

“It wasn't an easy decision but it was the best decision. The paramount concern is safety,” said Commissioner Ron Anderson.

He said everyone is in the dark when it comes to how long it will remain closed for.

He said a reopening would include moving the containers filled with cement barriers placed by the Department of Transportation to protect I-82.

With so many moving parts, he said they just need more time.

“Six months to a year of determining how that slide is going to continue, if it's going to continue, and those kinds of things based on the monitoring that's being done,” Anderson said.

He said they will be getting updates from the county's engineers to find out when it's safe enough to open Thorp Road again.

Until then it will remain closed to the public.

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