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Suiattle Road Repairs Halted

Posted by Lauren Braden at Jun 02, 2011 09:45 AM |
Federal agencies have decided to end their plans to repair the Suiattle River Road in the face of a lawsuit from two organizations that challenged the project. The road, which provides west side access to the Glacier peak Wilderness, has been washed out in places since massive flooding damaged the road in 2003 and 2006.
Suiattle Road Repairs Halted

Faced with a lawsuit, the Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration have abandoned plans to repair the Suiattle River Road this summer.

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The Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration have ended their plans to repair the long-washed out Suiattle River Road (FR 26) this summer. According to a story in today's Everett Herald,the $1.7 million project, which was to use emergency highway funds for the repair, has been abandoned because Federal funding was withdrawn in light of a recent lawsuit.

Washington Trails Association reported a few weeks ago that the Suiattle Road project was recently challenged by a lawsuit seeking an injunction. Two organizations, the North Cascades Conservation Council and Pilchuck Audubon Society, and Lynnwood engineer and hiker Bill Lider sued to halt work on the road repair project, contending that repairs at mileposts 12.6 and 14.4 were not properly scoped for environmental impacts. The lawsuit also objected to the use of emergency highway repair funds for the project.

The Suiattle River Road, which provides west side access to the Glacier peak Wilderness, has been washed out in several places since massive flooding damaged the road in 2003 and 2006. The washouts have prevented hiker access to stunning day hikes like Green Mountain and backpacks like Vista Creek Loop.

This news is a blow to many west side hikers who love this area. The Suiattle River Road is a critically important access route into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, and we at WTA have long mourned the loss of this road. We know many of our members and readers of The Signpost Blog have eagerly awaited these repairs. We feel strongly that this route is worthy of being rebuilt.

As WTA's Jonathan Guzzo says in the Everett Herald article: "There is a new generation of hikers who have never even been up there."

The Federal Highway Administration has not taken future repairs off of the table. According to the Everett Herald, the agency said it will include additional environmental analysis the next time it considers making repairs to the Suiattle River Road.

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